Jamaal Williams is saying his goodbyes to Green Bay.
The Packers running back and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent posted an emotional letter to his Instagram account on Monday afternoon in which he thanked fans and the organization for the memories over the past four seasons.
Williams’ message comes just a day after Green Bay signed fellow running back and 2017 draft selection Aaron Jones to a four-year, $48 million extension. He also indicated earlier Monday morning on NFL Network that he knew Jones’ deal meant his 2021 season would almost certainly be spent with another team.
“It’s just sad that we won’t be able to play together again,” said Williams, who will officially become an unrestricted free agent at 3 p.m. CT on March 17.
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Williams Leaves Green Bay as a Fan-Favorite
Williams has been a remarkably consistent running back for the Packers over his four years, gaining a combined 2,946 yards from scrimmage despite being relegated as the No. 2 back for most of his career. He has also elevated his game as a pass-catcher over the past two seasons under head coach Matt LaFleur, catching 87.5% of the passes thrown his way (77 receptions on 88 targets, including playoffs) with six of them going for touchdowns during that span.
While Williams’ numbers alone are good enough for Packers fans to remember him fondly, it could be his genuine, fun-loving personality that is missed most from his time in Green Bay. Williams cracked jokes in interviews and wide smiles on the turf, garnering appreciation from teammates like Jones and Aaron Rodgers for the energizing presence he brought to their locker room.
“I mean, I love Jamaal. Jamaal is such an important part of our team in so many facets,” Rodgers said last October after the Packers’ win over Houston. “Again, I’ve said this a lot, but I’m bringing it up time and time again because I just think he deserves so much credit for what he did in the offseason to get himself in this position. He’s such a talented guy. He obviously brings so much outside of the physical — the energy, the swag, the dancing moves that we all can try and copy or marvel at. He’s an important, important part of what we’re doing.”
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Packers’ New Tandem Becomes Jones/Dillon
The Packers were looking like they might have reason to pursue a new running back — either an affordable free agent or draft pick — to replace the loss of both Jones and Williams this offseason. They had acquired 2020 second-rounder AJ Dillon a year earlier to give them some security at the position, but the rest of the room was uncertain.
Now, with Jones signed up for four more years, the Packers have an opportunity to test out a true thunder-and-lightning combo with the hard-charging Dillon (6-foot, 247 pounds) and the fleet-footed Jones (5-foot-9, 208 pounds).
Dillon showed off some impressive moves throughout his rookie season and delivered a highlight performance in Week 16’s win over Tennessee when rushed for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns and outperformed Derrick Henry. He was also forced to overcome a midseason hiatus when he landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and missed five straight games. With a full year under his belt and a proper preseason to tune-up for 2021, Dillon could be poised to breakout year as the Packers’ true No. 2.