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GREEN BAY, Wis. – To Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, getting rid of running back Aaron Jones because of a couple costly fumbles would be akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

“Yeah, certainly, we expect to have him back,” Gutekunst said in reference to Jones’ exploding contract for the 2023 NFL season. “Obviously, he’s a dynamic player. It’s amazing, For a guy his size, to bring it every day, he rarely misses a practice, rarely misses a rep. The way he leads that football team, his consistency is amazing.

“When we got first here, you’re thinking, ‘Hey, this probably won’t last long because the way he’s built and his size,’ and he just keeps on defying the odds.”

Jones keeps going and going. In 2022, he set career highs with 1,121 rushing yards and 59 receptions. His 1,516 total yards just missed his career high. He remains one of the most explosive running backs in NFL history.

Yes, history.

According to Stathead, of the 423 running backs with at least 600 career carries, Jones’ 5.11-yard average ranks seventh all-time. That goes to fourth if you push that threshold to 850 carries.

Jones averaged 5.25 yards per carry in 2022. He’s reached that mark four times in six seasons, tied with Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Joe Perry for the most in NFL history.

It’s absurd production, which is why Gutekunst – so secretive in discussing his plans with most players – made it clear the team will restructure Jones’ contract to deal with its bloated salary cap. Jones, who will be entering Year 3 of a four-year deal worth $48 million, is due a base salary of $8.1 million and a roster bonus of $7.0 million.

“With the way we’re doing things lately, we’ll probably restructure everybody and try to keep making some room,” Gutekunst said with a laugh.

For as phenomenal as Jones has been as a runner, receiver, leader and member of the community, he’ll be haunted by two costly fumbles. One, in the 2020 NFC Championship Game against Tampa Bay, put the Packers in a 28-10 hole in the third quarter.

Another came last Sunday night, with the Packers driving to at least a field goal at the end of the first half when he burst into the open field on a screen. The (at least) six-point swing was a huge factor in the 20-16 loss to the Detroit Lions that ended the season.

The key fumbles – and the career-worst five this season – hide the reality that he’s had solid ball-security during his career. According to Pro Football Reference, Jones has 13 fumbles out of 1,035 rushes. That’s one for every 79.6. Green Bay’s career rushing leaders, Ahman Green and Jim Taylor, both had career marks of 54.9. This season, Jones passed John Brockington for third on the franchise career rushing list; Brockington fumbled once for every 56.2 carries.

“I was just trying to make a play,” Jones said on Monday. “Normally, I would veer inside and I seen the D-end retracing so then I just got vertical and a guy was coming off. I was using my off arm to stiff-arm. I know I should’ve probably had the ball in that arm, but the defender was coming from that side so I stiff-armed. Just got to be better in that situation, high and tight, but can’t have that. It’s tough, but I’ll be better next year, better ball security – all around, not just ball security, my game as a whole will be better next year.”

NFL Top 10: Career Yards Per Carry

There are 10 running backs in NFL history with at least 600 career rushing attempts and a career average of at least 5.00 yards per carry. Here’s the list.

*Marion Motley: 5.70

Jamaal Charles: 5.38

Nick Chubb: 5.24

*Jim Brown: 5.22

Dan Towler: 5.20

Mercury Morris: 5.14

Aaron Jones: 5.11

Jonathan Taylor: 5.08

Miles Sanders: 5.02

*Gale Sayers: 5.00

* Hall of Fame

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