Green Bay Packers

Aaron Jones’ Return Changes Everything

Jan 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs the ball against Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards (32) in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field . Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Jones will be staying with the Green Bay Packers on a 4-year, $48 million deal.

The contract comes as somewhat of a shock considering the Packers’ salary cap situation entering free agency this week. Bringing back Jones was starting to seem like a long shot, given his talent and Green Bay’s lack of flexibility financially. Yet, a deal got done and those in the land of cheese can rejoice. Jones’ return shifts the tone of the entire offseason.

Put the salary cap situation on the back burner, obviously the Packers will have to figure that out. So let’s not talk money here today. Some will say running backs aren’t worth the big contracts, there is a strong case to be made that Jones is worth it. What this move does for the offense and their vibes completely flips the script on conventional wisdom around running back signings.

The worst-case scenario had started to seem like a possibility for Green Bay this offseason. The cap casualties had started. Jones was to become a free agent who most assumed (including me) would probably take the bag somewhere else. Corey Linsley will be a free agent, meaning the Packers will lose their center. And with David Bakhtiari coming off a brutal knee injury, his timeline for 2021 seemed foggy. There was a small sense of panic. Was their window of opportunity inching closer to being closed?

Then we got the news today.

The mindset just completely shifts. Now there’s a deep sigh of relief seeing Aaron Rodgers, Jones, Davante Adams and Co. all under the same roof once again. Sure, the Packers will still need help at offensive line and could use another legitimate receiving threat, but Jones coming back turns some of those pessimistic outlooks into optimistic ones.

Bakhtiari’s timeline is still foggy, but instead of the thoughts being, Green Bay might be screwed, it becomes, Hey they can make it manage during his absence for the time being. Instead of constant worry about how the Packers will replace Linsley, now you just assume they’ll draft or scoop up a veteran on a cheap deal and all will be well. This move to bring back Jones brings back the light for Green Bay. Just the fact that the front office and Jones’ agent were able to complete this sends waves throughout the fan base and the team that they will keep finding a way to make things work.

No. 12 has to be smiling about this one, no? Your Pro-Bowl running back is staying put. One of the most dynamic and best two-way running backs isn’t going anywhere. He was set to be one of the top free agents on the entire board now he’s off the board before ever officially having to go on it.

The holes left to fill on offense suddenly seem less drastic. The anxiety levels have dropped off. There is still work left to be done, there’s no doubt about it, but Aaron Jones coming back to Green Bay for four more years keeps those championship dreams alive and well. He’s that important to this offense.

As another direct result of this signing, one would imagine this means Jamaal Williams ends up somewhere else. He’s a damn good running back who probably deserves a larger role in whatever offense he ends up in. But with Jones back and the Packers having taken AJ Dillon in the second round last year, it would be surprising to see the Packers cough up more money for another running back.

It almost assuredly closes the door on Corey Linsley coming back as well. Both he and Jones were the Packers top free-agents-to-be, with both set to earn big pay days. The hope was maybe they are able to bring one of them back, they succeeded in that today. But it in all likelihood ends Linsley’s time in Green Bay.

With the return of Jones, Rodgers gets one of his two biggest offensive contributors back.

It will be interesting to see what the Packers do from now until free agency starts on March 17 to try and get under the number for the cap. Perhaps a restructure or an extension for Za’Darius Smith? What about an extension for Adams? And will anything be done with Rodgers’ contract? All those moves have yet to be decided, but one thing is certain: The Packers title chances next year are looking good with No. 33 back.

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Jan 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs the ball against Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards (32) in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field . Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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