Aaron Jones may have already turned down his best offer to stay with the Green Bay Packers beyond the 2020 season.
The intrigue around Jones’s contract situation has been high ever since the 26-year-old running back hired Drew Rosenhaus as his new agent in December and was said to be “starting over” negotiations with the Packers for a long-term deal. Both sides had been working toward an extension throughout the season but failed to reach an agreement, leading to Jones’ recent change in representation.
Up to that point, no other specifics had been reported about the contract talks or how far apart the Packers were from Jones’ asking price. According to a recent insight from ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, though, the Packers had an offer on the table for Jones that would have put him among the league’s top five highest-paid running backs.
Here’s what Demovsky wrote about Jones on Tuesday for ESPN while naming him the Packers’ most important free-agent decision for the 2021 offseason:
“The Packers had a deal on the table that would have made Jones among the top five highest-paid backs in the league, but that was in terms of average per year. The big guaranteed money was missing. So Jones turned it down and then opted to change agents, hiring Drew Rosenhaus. The Packers continue to see how valuable Jones is — just look at his 60-yard run to open the second half of the playoff game against the Rams — but it’s hard to imagine them upping their guaranteed money, especially if they want to re-sign All-Pro center Corey Linsley. Perhaps the decision has already been made to let him go — or at least hit the market — but it couldn’t have been an easy one.”
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How Much Could Aaron Jones Make on Next Deal?
There are a few things we can infer about the Packers’ offer to Jones based on Demovsky’s write-up, the first being a ballpark amount for how much they offered to pay him. If their offer would have put him among the NFL’s top five highest-paid running backs in terms of annual value, the contract would have been worth no less than $12.6 million per season — which is what Minnesota’s Davlin Cook, the fifth-highest-paid back, makes, according to Over the Cap.
That’s also just the floor. The highest-paid running back in the league, Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey, is currently signed to a deal worth $16.015 million per year. The next-highest-paid backs are as follows: New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara ($15 million), Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott ($15 million) and Houston’s David Johnson ($13 million).
As Demovsky noted, though, the guaranteed money wasn’t where Jones had wanted it to be on the contract, which makes sense when looking at some of the guarantees his top-talent peers earned around the league. McCaffrey has $30 million fully guaranteed on his $64 million contract, while Kamara, Elliott, Johnson, Cook and Tennessee’s Derrick Henry all have more than $25 million in total guarantees associated with their current deals.
We may never know how much the Packers were willing to pay in guarantees, but it is hard to imagine they will drastically change their mind if that was, in fact, their point of disagreement. They also have other free agents — including All-Pro center Corey Linsley — to consider paying for their services beyond the 2020 season.
According to Spotrac’s calculated market value, Jones is estimated to earn $14 million in average annual salary on his next contract with the projection being a four-year deal worth $56.17 million.