Packers Among Favorites to Sign Projected $22 Million Aaron Jones Replacement

Aaron Jones could be a casualty in Packers free agency.

Getty Aaron Jones could be a casualty in Packers free agency.

One of the great questions looming for the Packers this offseason will be the team’s running game, where both A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones had shining moments, but neither could stay healthy and both are veterans who could be potential cap casualties.  It’s no secret that the Packers started last season hoping to find a new running back—they pursued a trade with the Colts for star holdout Jonathan Taylor, after all—and that pursuit could be on again this offseason in Packers free agency.

It won’t help anything that Jones is 29, a ripe old are for a running back, and can be waived to save about $5 million, and even more if the team waits until after June 1. Dillon will be 26 in May, and is a free agent. He can walk with no corresponding cap hit.

It’s a safe bet that the Packers will use at least one relatively high draft pick on a running back. That likely would mean at least one of Jones or Dillon gone—although moving on from both is possible if the team is looking for a new answer at the position.

If you’re a gambling type, you might consider this: the Packers are among the favorites to sign Giants star Saquon Barkley.


Packers Free Agency: Saquon Barkley Could Be Cheap

The Packers are on the list of eight potential suitors for Barkley, and are tied for fifth with the Eagles at 10-to-1 odds (or a 9.1% chance), according to the gambling site EmpireStakes.com. While there is no doubt about his talent as a running back, there is some question about whether he would be an upgrade over Jones, even with the hamstring and knee injuries that limited Jones this season.

Barkley was a Pro Bowl running back in 2022, but slipped in 2023 as the Giants’ offense sputtered and he fought his way through an ankle injury that cost him three games and slowed him down for longer. He finished the year with 962 yards on 247 carries, and posted an average of only 3.9 yards per carry.

When healthy, Barkley is among the best backs in the NFL, and could wind up being a bargain given the unimpressive season he had with the Giants. Barkley is projected at Spotrac to have a market value of $6.6 million per year, and projected to garner a three-year, $20 million contract—very affordable for the cap-conscious Packers.

Pro Football Focus is a little more bullish on the running back market in free agency and is projecting a two-year deal worth $22 million for Barkley. The site rates him as the top running back in free agency this offseason.


Aaron Jones Finished Strong

But Jones was excellent to close out the regular season for the Packers, and carried that into the playoffs. Jones finished the season as the hottest running back in the league, posting 100-yard games in his final three outings, then running for 118 yards and three touchdowns against the Cowboys and 108 yards against the 49ers. His 53-yard run against San Francisco in the fourth quarter set up a field-goal try that might have set up overtime, but which kicker Anders Carlson missed.

Jones addressed the ups and downs of this season both for himself and the Packers in general ahead of the 49ers loss.

“I feel like you have to go through some struggle before the storm passes and not that everything is great—hard times, the test will come before the good things happen, I feel like,” Jones told Kay Adams of the “Up and Adams” podcast. “That’s kind of what’s happened. I wouldn’t trade it in for the world, I feel like it’s made me me, it’s made our team us. Really developed everybody.”

 

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