Packers RB Jones thinking long term despite deal

  • Covered Packers for Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1997-2013
  • Two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Jones is like Aaron Rodgers in at least one way: He wants to finish his career with the Green Bay Packers but doesn’t know whether that can happen.

The fourth-year running back who tied for the NFL lead with 19 touchdowns last season is entering the final year of his rookie deal. The Packers drafted a running back, AJ Dillon of Boston College, in the second round after they took Rodgers’ possible eventual replacement, Jordan Love, in the first round.

“Whether it’s my first year or my last year on a deal, I’m going to be just as motivated,” Jones said Wednesday on a Zoom call with the Packers media contingent. “It doesn’t change just because a contract is on the line for me. I mean, I’m going to continue to work and do everything in my power. I trust my agency and the Packers. With that, I would love to be a lifelong Packer. That’s my take on that.”

A source told ESPN at the NFL combine in February that both sides were open to discussing a contract extension. On Wednesday, one of Jones’ agents, Chris Cabott, told ESPN that talks have indeed taken place.

“There have been conversations and there will continue to be,” Cabott said.

Jones, a fifth-round pick in 2015, had a breakout season in 2019, when he totaled 1,558 yards from scrimmage and tied with Christian McCaffrey for the NFL’s touchdown lead. Jones registered his first 1,000-yard rushing season and needed the fewest carries (236) by a Packers running back to hit that mark since John Brockington in 1971 (1,105 yards on 216 carries).

McCaffrey reset the running back market with a four-year, $64 million extension earlier this offseason. At $16 million a year, it made him the NFL’s new highest-paid running back. The Packers haven’t given a second contract to a running back they drafted since James Starks, a sixth-round pick in 2010.

Most recently, they let former 1,000-yard rusher Eddie Lacy leave in free agency after the 2016 season.

“I’m really not looking at the market, I’m just focused on myself,” Jones said. “I feel like I can play at a really high level and elite level for a very long time, so I’m just going to do what I can, and hopefully that leads to me being a Packer for life. That’s my goal.”

Jones is set to make $2.13 million this season. Complicating matters for Jones and the Packers is the fact that he’s one of five starters scheduled to be free agents next spring. The others are left tackle David Bakhtiari, defensive tackle Kenny Clark, center Corey Linsley and cornerback Kevin King. Jones’ primary backup, Jamaal Williams, also is entering the final year of his deal.

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