As the Green Bay Packers 2023 regular season nears its end, there are plenty of questions swirling regarding the future of the coaching staff and the roster. The biggest question of the year, however, has already been answered: Jordan Love is the quarterback of the present and the future. Through 15 games, Love has a 62.5% completion percentage, has thrown for 3,587 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions, and has a quarterback rating of 91.8.
The question surrounding their quarterback, of course, was the most important one that needed answering this season. In some ways, the season can be called a success whether they make the NFL Playoffs or not because they now know they can build around Love.
Unfortunately, having a good quarterback does not always mean the rest of the team is good. Furthermore, it takes more than just a great quarterback to make an offense work. Throughout the 2023 season, the Packers have struggled in the run game. Their 33-30 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday saw Aaron Jones post the first 100+ yard game for any Packers running back or wide receiver this season.
Looking to the future, the Packers are most certainly set at quarterback, but the running back position is the one surrounded with multiple questions going forward.
The Green Bay Packers Need to Take a Hard Look at Their Future With or Without Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon
While Jordan Love will get a contract extension this offseason and the wide receivers and tight ends are still on rookie contracts, the Packers’ running back room is fairly uncertain beyond this season.
AJ Dillon will be a free agent, and while he wants to stay in Green Bay, it is unknown whether or not the feeling is mutual. Jones still has a year left on his contract, but as football fans know, that does not mean anything in the business of the NFL.
According to Spotrac, Jones is slated to have a $17.7 million cap hit next year, but a $12.3 million dead cap hit. He also has three void years added to end of the deal. In other words, the Packers could save $5.4 million by releasing him. Given the fact that he will be 30 next year and has been banged up for most of this season, it is easy to see the argument for why the Packers may decide to move on.
On the other hand, Jones is a dynamic running back when healthy and, if he can avoid injury, could be a massive part of the offense again next year. Dillon, on the other hand, has not lived up to his draft position (2020 second round pick). This season, he has rushed 171 times for 586 yards, good for a career-low 3.4 yards per carry.
As he enters free agency, he will certainly look to stay with the Packers; but, as mentioned, the team may look elsewhere.
NFL Analyst Suggests the Green Bay Packers May Look to Sign Antonio Gibson
If the Packers decide to keep Jones for the remainder of his contract (or extend him), but move on from Dillon, they will need to address the backup running back position in the offseason. Patrick Taylor, James Robinson, Kenyon Drake, and Emanuel Wilson all have not impressed enough to warrant a look as the second running back on the depth chart.
For this reason, Bleacher Report‘s Joe Tansey suggested that Green Bay sign former 1,000-yard rusher Antonio Gibson:
“Antonio Gibson has flown under the radar of most NFL fans during his four-year career.
“The 25-year-old turned himself into a valuable third-down back for the Washington Commanders and he could be one of the coveted second-tier running backs on the free-agent market.
“Washington may be willing to not re-sign Gibson because it has Brian Robinson and Chris Rodriguez already on its roster and it can’t afford to spend more money on a running back when it needs to improve in all areas of the roster.
“Green Bay could swap Dillon for Gibson in free agency to have a true third-down back support Aaron Jones.
“Gibson caught over 40 passes in each of the last three seasons and he has a 1,000-yard rushing season on his resume from 2021.”
The receiving capabilities that Gibson brings could be very attractive for the Packers. As Tansey notes, he has more than 40 receptions in each of the past three seasons. In his rookie season, he had 36. This year, Gibson has 59 rushing attempts for 238 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown. However, he also has 43 receptions for 344 yards (8.0 yards per reception) and two more touchdowns.
Dillon has never had 40 receptions in a season, with his career high being 34 in 2021. Jones had over 40 receptions in each season from 2019-2022.
Gibson’s receiving abilities would certainly add a new facet to the offense in that Green Bay has not had a reliable backup receiving back in years. That being said, if the Packers are not going to re-sign Dillon, it is not likely they will sign anyone to be their backup. Instead, they will look to the NFL Draft.