It is no secret in Green Bay that Aaron Jones is likely to depart via free agency. After turning down a contract that would have made him one of the top five highest paid running backs in the league, the Packers are forced to weigh their options. Of course, they could use the franchise tag on him. However, if they do that, Jones could also hold out for the season a la La’Veon Bell. With so much unknown, rumors have swirled all offseason. Recently, Chris Carson has been identified as possible replacement for Aaron Jones.
Chris Carson with Seattle
Chris Carson was drafted in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. After a quiet rookie season, Caron exploded in 2018 and 2019 with back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Had he not missed four games in 2020, he may very well have gone over 1,000 yards for a third consecutive season. As it was, though, 2020 was a down year statistically. He ran for 681 yards with a yards per carry average of 4.8.
In each of the past three seasons, Carson has graded out as a top ten back in the NFL. In 2018 and 2019, he was top five in the NFL in rushing. However, because he played in Seattle, he rarely got the attention garnered by the team’s other stars. It seems Seattle even undervalues him now. They appear ready to let him walk in free agency without a contract offer.
Why the Packers Make Sense for Carson
The Green Bay Packers are an attractive team for many free agents looking to win. Despite the players they will lose to free agency, they are still the clear favorites to win the NFC North. Coming to Green Bay will give Carson the chance to continue to play for a winning team.
On the field, the Packers make sense for Carson because of AJ Dillon. Even though Dillon is projected as the starter in 2021, Matt LaFleur’s offense spreads carries among various ball carriers. Carson will not lack for touches or playing time. If the Packers bring Carson in for just one year, he could use it to rebuild his value after a down 2020 and get a bigger contract elsewhere in 2022.
Why Carson Makes Sense for the Packers
After the aforementioned down year last season, Chris Carson will be an affordable free agent the Packers could add once they get below the salary cap. If the team was willing to enter the 2021 offseason with Jones under contract as a top five paid running back, surly they could figure out a short-term deal for Chris Carson.
Carson is also a great complementary back to AJ Dillon. The two backs could keep defenses off balance with their differing styles of play. Additionally, Carson is great after contact, ranking third in yards after contact (3.4) among all running backs over the past three seasons.
A final reason that Carson would make sense for the Packers is that he is an effective receiving back. Last season, despite missing four games, he set career highs in receiving yards (287) and receiving touchdowns (four). He also tied his career high with 37 receptions. One of Aaron Jones’ most valuable roles in the Packers’ offense was his ability to act as an extra receiver. Chris Carson could fill this role very well.