Would anyone blame running back A.J. Dillon if he were less than amused by what’s been bounding around the NFL’s rumor mill lately? After all, Dillon and teammate Aaron Jones make up what is among the best running back 1-2 punches in the NFL—both Jones and Dillon were ranked in the Top 12 in Pro Football Focus’ positional grades—so it hardly makes much sense that the Packers should be shaking trees for other running backs.
Yet, Green Bay has been acknowledged as one of the teams, with Miami, that sought out the Colts for a potential trade for superstar running back Jonathan Taylor, who has been holding out for a new deal with Indianapolis and almost certainly will not play in Week 1.
General manager Brian Gutekunst, when asked about the rumors last week, was annoyed that the discussions had reached the media, before deflecting further comment. “Not really too consumed with that,” he said. “We have a great running back room. Really excited about it. I think they’re a strength of our football team. Again, we have a lot of conversations. If people perceive it’s one thing or another, I can’t control that.”
Said Dillon, per SI.com, in his first public acknowledgment of the rumor: “When I saw that, I just kind of laughed. I don’t think much about that.”
Dillon Would Likely Be Shipped Out in Taylor Deal
Should the Packers and Colts revive talks around Taylor, whom Green Bay was said to be willing to make the highest paid back in the league, it’s like that Dillon would be involved in the deal. Certainly, there isn’t room in the offense for a trio of Taylor, Jones and Dillon. Because Jones is 28 and Dillon is 25, Dillon would make more sense as an Indy target.
But Dillon said he did not fire off angry texts to Gutekunst, nor did he storm into his office.
“I’m not going to go upstairs and start knocking on doors [about] rumors or anything like that,” Dillon said. “It’s just about when it’s time for my name to actually be brought up, when we’ve got real second-contract talks coming up, then I’ll have those talks. But that has nothing to do with me.
“I’m focused on Game 1, rocking with my guy 33 (Aaron Jones) over there – best backfield in America – and we’re going to go out there and prove it and keep balling and keep pushing each other.”
Packers’ RBs Under More Pressure
The expectations this season will be high for both Jones and Dillon as the Packers transition, at long last, to quarterback Jordan Love. The Packers can expect to run the ball more because the running backs and the offensive line are the only facets of the offense that have real NFL experience.
They’ll be especially high for Dillon, who disappointed somewhat last year (his third in the NFL) after he posted a promising second season, when he ran for 803 yards and added 313 receiving yards. The hope was that Dillon would be an even bigger weapon in Year 3, especially in the passing game.
But he regressed, going from 34 catches to 28 and putting up just 206 receiving yards. He ran for 770 yards, despite getting essentially the same number of carries (186), and is under pressure to turn things around this year. Or he could wind up as the outgoing centerpiece of a trade.
“That’s the nature of the business,” Dillon said. “I’m not naïve (enough) to think that when draft time comes around, if the shoe was flipped on the other foot, you’re trying to make your team as good as you can. I don’t know what the truth to that is or whatever but all that outside stuff, that doesn’t bother me.”