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Aaron Jones, Packers Agree to 4-Year, $48M Contract Ahead of 2021 Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2021

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Jones runs off the field after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers defeated the Rams 32-18 to advance to the NFC championship game. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Mike Roemer/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal with running back Aaron Jones on Sunday, agent Drew Rosenhaus told Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Jones' deal includes a $13 million signing bonus, per Rosenhaus.

"Aaron would have signed for more in free agency but wanted to stay in Green Bay," Rosenhaus said, per Schefter.

Jones expressed his excitement to return to Green Bay on Twitter and Instagram:

Aaron Jones 3️⃣3️⃣ @Showtyme_33

Let’s run it back🧀 #GoPackGo https://t.co/wW20Xti3QR

Olivia Reiner @ReinerOlivia

Newly re-signed Packers RB Aaron Jones is live on Instagram right now: "I'm just glad I could keep playing where I started my career." https://t.co/aCsazCqsRG

In conjunction with the move, he said he plans on matching donations made to the charitable foundation he runs with his brother, Alvin:

A&A All The Way Foundation @AAAllTheWayFdn

BREAKING NEWS: Upon re-signing with the @packers, Aaron Jones (@Showtyme_33) pledges to match a minimum of $50K in donations every year to #AAAlltheWay for life! Visit https://t.co/et7TpVfWcB to donate, and Aaron will match it. https://t.co/DhoXlgBQfA

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein and Jim Owczarski reported last February that Jones and the Packers had "mutual interest" in a long-term deal to keep him in Green Bay.

Jones indicated in September negotiations were ongoing:

Will Selva @WillSelvaTV

.@packers RB Aaron Jones on @gmfb @nflnetwork on whether the team is working on a new deal for him: "Yes they definitely are. My agent and them are taking care of that. I'm gonna focus on football."

The Packers might regret failing to get anything done before the 2020 season concluded, since Jones solidified his value with his performance on the field.

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The 26-year-old ran for 1,104 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He also caught 47 passes for 355 yards and two scores. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time, and Football Outsiders ranked him fourth among running backs in DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement).

Jones played his way into a nice payday. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 45 free agent available:

"Jones has four straight seasons with a PFF rushing grade of 79.0 or higher, and he ranks fourth in receiving grade among running backs since the start of the 2019 season, behind only Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara, each of whom has had a big payday in large part because of that skill.

"Jones is a well-rounded threat at the position and a player with little in the way of weaknesses. He has also been kept relatively fresh by Green Bay's use of a committee approach to their backfield, so should still have tread left on the tires."

This move comes with the inherent risk of locking up any running back to a lucrative second contract once his rookie deal expires.

Todd Gurley's trainer revealed in June 2019 he had an "arthritic component to his knee," just inside one full year after he signed a $60 million extension with the Los Angeles Rams. Since signing a three-year, $39 million extension with the Arizona Cardinals in September 2018, David Johnson logged 352 total carries and ran for 1,285 yards in his next two seasons with the team.

Neither Gurley nor Johnson is still with the franchise that signed them to those contracts.

Le'Veon Bell's four-year, $52.5 million deal with the New York Jets in 2019 didn't work out, either. He was released in October and eventually landed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Packers have to operate with a level of urgency, though.

Aaron Rodgers turned 37 in December. Although elite quarterbacks are continuing to play at a high level well into their 30s, Green Bay can't expect its championship window to remain open forever.

Following a season-ending loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rodgers also seemingly opened the door for his exit this offseason:

Matt Schneidman @mattschneidman

Aaron Rodgers: “A lot of guys futures, they’re uncertain, myself included.”

Jones' presence doesn't single-handedly make or break the Packers' Super Bowl hopes, but he alleviates some of the pressure on Rodgers and the passing game. The team shouldn't have to worry about its offensive balance for the foreseeable future.

This also aligns with the arrival of 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love, a move some argued was a way for head coach Matt LaFleur to exert some power over Rodgers and make the offense a little more run-focused.

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