No franchise tag? No problem. Aaron Jones is coming back to the Green Bay Packers.
The free agent running back has reportedly signed a new contract with the green and gold, keeping the former fifth-round draft pick with the Packers. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the deal is worth $48 million in total over four years with a $13 million signing bonus.
Note that Schefter got his information from Jones’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Agents typically will leak the full value of a contract including all possible incentives, so the deal may be worth somewhat less than the $48 million total before incentives are factored in. Additionally, the Packers tend too give out guaranteed money only in the form of a signing bonus, so there is likely no additional guaranteed salary beyond the $13 million.
Jones has ascended to the upper echelon of NFL running backs over the past two years, fully unleashed after Matt LaFleur’s hiring as head coach. He has recorded over 1,000 rushing yards and more than 10 total touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. However, with the Packers facing a difficult salary cap situation in 2021, Jones was widely expected to cash in elsewhere with a big free agent contract.
Instead, Jones is headed back to Green Bay on a deal that ties him with the Bengals’ Joe Mixon for the sixth-highest average annual value at the running back position, and he did so less than 24 hours before the free agent negotiation window begins. The Packers now need to clear some more salary cap space after agreeing to this deal, as they were expected to be approximately at the cap following some restructured contracts on Saturday.
Jones previewed the announcement on Twitter on Sunday afternoon, moments before Schefter delivered the details:
According to beat writer Tom Silverstein, the Packers plan to sign edge rusher Za’Darius Smith to a contract extension that will free up cap space in 2022 to make room for Jones. Silverstein expects a deal to be struck in the next day or so.
Stay tuned for more information on the contract and the necessary moves that will get the Packers back under the salary cap.