The Green Bay Packers have some tough decisions to make this offseason to get under the salary cap for 2023, and that could include parting ways with one of the team’s top offensive weapons.
Aaron Jones, the Packers’ star running back, could become a cap casualty, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox wrote.
“If [quarterback Aaron] Rodgers retires, the Packers may look to blow up their roster and start over,” Knox wrote in the January 16 story. “If he doesn’t, they’ll still need to clear some cap room. Green Bay is projected to be $14.9 million over the cap. While releasing star running back Aaron Jones feels like an unlikely move, it’s one we can’t rule out entirely … Should Jones become available, he’d immediately become one of the top backs on the open market, perhaps just below [the Las Vegas Raiders‘ Josh] Jacobs and [the New York Giants’ Saquon] Barkley.”
General manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters on January 13 that he expected Jones to be back in Green Bay next season, acknowledging the team would likely have to restructure Jones’ contract in order to keep him.
“We’re working through all those things. There’s all those dominos, right?” Gutekunst said. “You’re looking at everything and the timing of those things. There are certain things you might do, and then you don’t have to do that, so we’ll work through that over the next month or so.”
Who Could the Packers Part Ways With in 2023?
It’s going to be another difficult offseason for the Packers to bring in new talent, and with the team’s cap constraints, there are a few players who could have already played their last game in Green Bay.
Several key contributors to Green Bay’s 2022 team will be free agents this offseason, but given their age and production, it’s hard to imagine them returning next season. Those players include 38-year-old kicker Mason Crosby and 32-year-old receiver Randall Cobb and veterans who had disappointing seasons, including Adrian Amos and Dean Lowry.
The Packers have few outright cut candidates outside of Aaron Jones, but Preston Smith could be on the list. The veteran pass rusher would save Green Bay over $3 million in cap space if the team released him. However, given the team’s lack of depth at outside linebacker while Rashan Gary recovers from a torn ACL, it’s an unlikely move.
Aaron Jones is a Top-Tier NFL Running Back
The Packers could be considering the future of Jones in Green Bay, but the former Day 3 draft pick has turned himself into one of the best running backs in football.
Despite only being named to one Pro Bowl, Jones has had an exceptional run with the Packers. In six seasons, Jones has racked up 5,284 rushing yards, 1,843 receiving yards, and 60 total touchdowns for the Packers while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. His rushing total puts him at third all-time in Green Bay’s career rushing yards leaders.
Jones had another impressive season in 2022, averaging 5.3 yards per carry while racking up over 1,500 yards from scrimmage. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he also finished third in the NFL with 48.8 percent of rushes going over expected yardage.