“I’m just glad I could keep playing where I started my career. And for everybody who think they know where I was going, you guys are funny; I didn’t even know where I was going.” -Aaron Jones on Instagram Live.
On the eve of the NFL’s legal tampering period, when teams are allowed to begin contract talks with free agents, Packers running back Aaron Jones tweeted a jubilant photo of himself with the caption “Let’s run it back #GoPackGo”. ESPN’s Adam Schefter was quick to confirm that the team and agent Drew Rosenhaus had come to terms on a 4-year, $48 million deal including a $13 million signing bonus.
What a Deal!
The deal clearly includes a hometown discount. “We anticipated bigger offers in free agency,” said Rosenhaus, “but Aaron wanted to stay with the Packers.” At $12 million APY, Jones is now the 6th-highest paid running back in the league — just behind Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook. Sometime between November 15th and December 14th, the Packers made Jones an offer that would make him a top five highest paid player at the position, but included less guaranteed money. Jones fired agent Leigh Steinberg and signed with Rosenhaus instead, who famously negotiated a last-minute extension with the Packers for cornerback Sam Shields back in 2014.
What About Jamaal Williams?
This move likely leaves Jamaal Williams looking for a new team, and Matt LaFleur’s run-heavy scheme will be carried by a one-two punch of AJ Dillon’s thunder and Aaron Jones’ lightning. Williams and Dillon are similar styles of power running backs, while scatback Jones provides a delicious complement, meaning Jones and Dillon was always a more lethal combination than the cheaper Williams and Dillon would have been. Still, Jones was the top running back available in free agency this year and the Packers will be forced to look for other ways to save money after allotting a much higher amount at the running back position than usual.
What About the Salary Cap?
While full details of the new contract have not been released yet, the minimum salary cap hit Jones could account for in 2021 would be $4.16 million. While there is some debate surrounding the Packers’ current cap situation, Over The Cap projects they are currently $2.35 million over prior to Jones’ extension, meaning at a minimum the team will need to free up $6.51 million by Wednesday, March 17th, the start of the new league year. A Za’Darius Smith extension would seem to be a likely option on the table.
If the Packers can work out extensions with Za’Darius and Davante Adams, they could potentially get away without touching Aaron Rodgers’ contract. Converting his $6.8 million roster bonus into a signing bonus would be a low-risk maneuver that frees up $4.5 million without adding future years to his contract.
There is a report circulating by Fansided’s Matt Lombardo that Jones’ contract could possibly be closer to $9.5 million APY with incentives that could push it up as high as the previously reported $12 million. For now, Schefter’s report of $48 million — corroborated by the likes of Ryan Wood and Rob Demovsky — is the closest official number available. The former 5th-round pick who was badly underutilized in Mike McCarthy’s scheme is now a top-6 highest paid back in the league. Not bad at all, let’s run it back indeed.
Follow me on Twitter at @jjlahey and follow us at @WiscoHeroics1. Check out our shop for new merchandise. Use promo code WISCO at checkout for $1 off! To read more of our articles and keep up to date on the latest in Wisconsin sports, click here.