Aaron Rodgers admitted he was “not thrilled” when the Green Bay Packers traded up to draft first-round quarterback Jordan Love last year, but it would be hard to tell that based on how teammates have described their interactions in Year 1 together.
Packers star running back Aaron Jones was asked about the relationship between Rodgers and Love during his Thursday appearance on The Rich Eisen Show and revealed the three-time NFL MVP quarterback spent significant time mentoring his potential successor in 2020, working with him “every day, all day” last season despite the growing rift between him and the organization.
Here’s what Jones said when Eisen asked him about Rodgers’ mentorship of Love:
You see him working with Jordan every day, all day, trying to teach him as much as he can. That’s the cool thing about A-Rod.
Maybe it might be a play, and what he saw if it was like the first read or the second read or the third read, maybe a little bit on the mechanics side of it. He just goes into so many different things. Or, it could be the sound of the cadence, trying to get them jumping offsides, little things. He’s just trying to better the players around him, truly.
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Jones Worked Directly With Jordan Love
Jones didn’t have much to share with Eisen about how the Packers’ situation is developing with Rodgers. While Jones said he has communicated a few times with his quarterback throughout the offseason and made him one of the few teammates he told about his contract extension before news broke in March, he has heard nothing from Rodgers about potentially not returning to the team.
“We all want A-Rod back in Green Bay,” Jones said. “I think that’s obvious. He’s a great leader, a great player and a great person off the field, and just somebody to learn from. He probably believes in you more than you believe in yourself when you’re first coming in and he just helps players develop. I love having him around and want him to be my quarterback.”
Jones did, however, elaborate on how much work Love has been getting behind the scenes for the Packers. Skeptics have wondered if the 2020 first-rounder is prepared to step in as the Packers’ starting quarterback if their situation with Rodgers does not get resolved, as Love played no snaps in 2020 as their third-string passer.
“He ran scout team and he was working with me every Saturday, doing over-the-shoulder ball drills, things like that,” Jones said. “So Jordan did get a lot of work. And then we have … individual periods where they’re working with us and working on our development every day.”
Jones Earned New Deal, but Challenges Await
A year ago, it seemed unlikely the Packers would find a way to bring back Jones for the 2021 season. The team was in a rough spot in terms of the salary cap and he was a high-value free agent. The Packers had also spent their 2020 second-round pick on Boston College rusher AJ Dillon, who granted them negotiating leverage with both Jones and former No. 2 running back Jamaal Williams in free agency.
And yet, the Packers still found a way to reinvest in one of their top offensive talents over the past two seasons. After several restructures and deciding to let some other free agents walk — including All-Pro center Corey Linsley — the Packers inked Jones to a four-year, $48 million contract extension that will see him carry cap charges of just $4.475 million in 2021 and $9 million in 2022. All in all, not a bad price for a player who would have been the top free-agent rusher on the market.
Jones cannot afford to take his foot off the gas, though, coming into the 2021 season. While he has gained more than 3,000 scrimmage yards and scored 30 total touchdowns over the past two years, the structure of his contract allows the Packers to save close to $13 million in cap space if they move on from him during the 2023 offseason. Dillon will be entering the final year of his rookie deal at that point and could present the Packers with a less expensive option at RB1 if Jones hasn’t lived up to his money.