GREEN BAY, Wis. – Late in the season, Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones switched agents, going with the high-profile Drew Rosenhaus in hopes of maximizing his value in free agency.
Jones could have saved the agent fees by hiring his mom, Vurgess.
“My mom was telling me the whole time, ‘You’re going to end back up in Green Bay. Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about things, you’re going to end back up here,’” Jones said on Friday after finally signing the contract he agreed to almost two weeks ago. “So, I guess Mom always knows.”
On March 14, just a day before the start of the free-agent negotiating period, Jones agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract that included a $13 million signing bonus. The deal ensures he’ll spend at least the next two seasons in Green Bay.
“This is home for me,” Jones said. “This is where my career started and just everything feels right here – the system, I’ve got my home here, I’ve got my teammates, the coaching staff, everything. So, it just felt like it was a great fit for me and continue to play where I’ve been playing. It’s home.”
The 19th running back selected in the 2017 draft, Jones ranks second in rushing yards, fifth in total yards, second in rushing touchdowns and third in total touchdowns.
Already, Jones ranks 11th in Packers history with 3,364 rushing yards. He is coming off back-to-back seasons of 1,000-plus rushing yards. If he does so again, he’ll zoom all the way into fourth place in franchise history. Among those he’d pass would be Hall of Famers Paul Hornung (3,711), Clarke Hinkle (3,860) and Tony Canadeo (4,197).
Jones is coming off his first Pro Bowl season after ranking fourth in rushing yards and fifth in yards per carry in 2020. In the final six games of the regular season, he had 90-plus rushing yards four times. He added a 99-yard performance that included a 60-yard dash in the playoff win over the Los Angeles Rams but fumbled and was injured in the NFC Championship Game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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After back-to-back seasons of 1,000-plus rushing yards and trips to the NFC Championship Game, 2021 will be a vastly different season for Jones. All-Pro center Corey Linsley signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. His four-year backfield sidekick, Jamaal Williams, signed with the rival Detroit Lions. A.J. Dillon, a second-round pick last year, will join Jones as the new backfield tandem.
“That’s my brother, my running back-mate,” Jones said of Williams. “We came in together. We’ve done so many things together. We pushed each other. I’ve got to thank him for helping me get to this point. I know it’s a business but I’m happy for Jamaal in Detroit. I guess he couldn’t get away from me. He still wants to see me two times a year. I just want to thank both of those guys for helping me become the player that I am and helping me showcase my talent. So thankful for them.”
With general manager Brian Gutekunst doing what he can to keep last year’s 13-3 team together in an attempt to finally get back to the Super Bowl, the Packers no doubt are thankful to have Jones. However, there is a well-established peril in paying running backs. Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara, two players drafted ahead of Jones in 2017, were worth every penny of the contract extensions they signed last season. However, of the top 10 backs in annual pay, seven fell well short of expectations due to slipping performance and/or injuries.
The structure of the deal mitigated some of the concern from Green Bay’s perspective. With an $8.1 million base salary and $7.4 million roster bonus for 2023, the reality is Jones’ contract really is for two years and $20 million. Regardless of the finances and the lack of certainty after the 2022 season, Jones was thrilled to stay in Green Bay.
“I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface to enter the prime yet,” he said. “I feel like I’ve still got a lot of growing to do, and I think it’s going to be scary for a lot of people and just continue to grind and work and I’ll be right where I want to be.”