Is Aaron Jones Worth $20 Million?

Aaron Jones has been a vital component to the Packers’ offense. He fits the bill perfectly because of how much versatility he brings, as a runner breaking tackles, as a pass catcher getting upfield and even as a blocker for Aaron Rodgers.

Jones will be playing under a cap hit of $5.9 million in 2022, which is an uptick from his $4.4 million a year ago.

The problem lies in 2023. That’s when his cap hit skyrockets to $20 million. Jaire Alexander will be a free agent in 2023 and will command top dollar as will Elgton Jenkins — one of the most versatile offensive lineman in the league.

Unless the Packers is restructuring his deal, I don’t see how Jones is in Green Bay after 2022. According to OverTheCap.com, the dead cap number is $4 million if the Packers cut him after June 1, with a savings of $16 million.

The reason why this is important now is because the Packers have to know if AJ Dillon can handle the load. But I think they already do. They have seen him catch, run and block. Granted, Dillon isn’t as shifty as Jones, but Dillon also gives the Packers plenty of cap flexibility.

Coming into this season, the top cap numbers for running backs are 1. Ezekiel Elliott ($18.2 million), 2. Derrick Henry ($15 million), 3. Dalvin Cook ($11.8 million), 4. Joe Mixon ($11.4 million), 5 Christian McCaffrey ($8.7 million). There’s no reason to give Jones $20 million when Dalvin Cook — the top running back in the NFC in my opinion — will top out at $15.6 million in 2024.

The X-factor in all of this is Kylin Hill. He played the role of Jones before suffering a season-ending torn ACL in October. He is shifty, he can do multiple things and most importantly, he is much cheaper. The question will remain if Hill is back to 100 percent mentally and physically.

Because if he’s not ready to absorb contact, can Dillon be an everyday featured back? He proved that he can catch passes, run and make people miss and he’s also willing to block. But is he ready to do it week after week when teams will be keying on him?

That’s why the Jones and Dillon combo worked so well. When Dillon was running well between the tackles, Matt LaFleur quickly changed gears and let Jones bust it outside. The moment that the opposing defense didn’t have its run defense on the field, the ball would go to Dillon as he hammered his way to a sizable gain.

The Packers will likely ask Jones if he is willing to restructure his deal to stay in Green Bay. If he declines, I don’t see him sticking around. The NFL Draft showed us how much general managers value wide receivers as six went in the first 18 picks.

This isn’t a three yards and a cloud of dust game anymore. These are dynamic, pass-happy offenses that love to keep defenses guessing.

There could also be this scenario where Jones lines up at wide receiver for a number of snaps. He has very good production and it could have a reverse Deebo Samuel effect. Maybe he wants even more money because of everything that is being asked of him.

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