Aaron Jones Rumors: Packers Believe They Can Sign RB; Dolphins Linked

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2021

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs during an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec 19. 2020, between the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers decided not to use the franchise tag on running back Aaron Jones, but they reportedly still hope to retain him this offseason.

According to Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Packers "believe" they can re-sign him without much guaranteed money and are trying to work out a deal before the free-agent market opens Wednesday.

The tag in 2021 would have cost around $8 million. If Jones does hit the open market, the Miami Dolphins are considered a top destination, while the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals are also possibilities.

Jones has been one of the top running backs in the NFL over the past two years, totaling 3,017 yards from scrimmage and 30 touchdowns from scrimmage in that stretch. He led the league with 16 rushing touchdowns in 2019 and has been reliable as both a runner and receiver, topping 1,000 rushing yards and 45 catches the past two years.

While he was a key part of the Packers finishing last year with the No. 1 scoring offense in football, the team also invested a second-round pick in AJ Dillon last offseason. Dillon saw limited playing time as a rookie but averaged 5.3 yards per carry on his 46 attempts during the regular season.

He was especially impressive in a Week 16 win over the Tennessee Titans with 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Even if Green Bay re-signs Jones, the team would likely want to keep Dillon involved and transition him into a starting role before too long. It could mean a brighter future for Jones elsewhere, especially if he can get a long-term deal with significant guaranteed money.

Miami is hoping to contend for a playoff spot next season after going 10-6 in 2020, but running back remains a hole after Myles Gaskin led the team with just 584 rushing yards last season. The team hasn't had anyone top 800 rushing yards in a season since Jay Ajayi in 2016.

Jones would represent a major upgrade while taking some pressure off young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.