Aaron Jones free agent market reportedly heating up, NFC team interested in NFL star

Author:
Sportsnaut

The Green Bay Packers were the most active team on the first day of NFL free agency, signing top safety Xavier McKinney and running back Josh Jacobs. However, it came with the release of star running back Aaron Jones and his market is already heating up less than 24 hours after being cut.

Jones, a Pro Bowl selection in 2020, was released by Green Bay on Monday afternoon after the team signed Jacobs. He finished his Packers’ career third on the Packers’ all-time rushing yardage list and was coming off a stretch late in the 2023 season where he carried the run game.

  • Aaron Jones career stats: 5,940 rushing yards, 45 rushing touchdowns, 5 yards per carry, 272 receptions, 2,076 receiving yards, 7.6 yards per reception in 97 games

However, heading into his age-30 season, Jones also missed time last year with injuries and his effectiveness dipped. He finished the regular season with just 656 rushing yards in 11 games, his lowest total since his rookie year in 2017. While Jones’s 4.6 yards per carry average ranked 12th-highest among running backs, it was a steep dip from his 5.3 ypc in 2022 and his lowest mark since 2019.

The 5-foot-9 running back was expected to generate immediate interest in NFL free agency. Now, hours after his release became official, the first of multiple suitors has emerged.

  • Aaron Jones stats 2023: 656 rushing yards, 4.6 yards per carry, 30 receptions, 233 receiving yards, 3 total touchdowns, 5.2 yards per touch average

According to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini, the Minnesota Vikings have already shown interest in Jones. Minnesota released starting running back Alexander Mattison last week and would use Jones as the featured player in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

With the Vikings, Jones would have an opportunity to face the Packers twice a year. He could also be the focal point of an NFL offense for the first time in his career, as Green Bay last gave him at least 215 carries in a season in 2019. There would also be an additional incentive for him to play against Green Bay considering what happened before his release.

Why did the Packers release Aaron Jones?

Ahead of NFL free agency, reports made it clear that the Packers were hoping to retain Jones on a restructured contract. Before he was cut, Jones’ original contract carried the second-largest cap hit among running backs in 2024.

On Monday morning, the expectation was for Jones to remain in Green Bay. Even after the Packers signed Jacobs, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network worked that the team was likely to keep its homegrown running back. An hour later, he was released.

However, according to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic, the Packers asked Jones to take about a 50 percent pay cut, if not more, for the upcoming season. Green Bay started negotiations with Jones’ agent Drew Rosenhaus at the NFL Combine and made minimal progress since then. Last Friday, per Schneidman, the Packers made their final revised contract offer to Jones and it was rejected.

At that point, Green Bay turned its attention to replacing Jones and they pulled their final contract offer off the table. By releasing Jones, the Packers created $5.2 million in cap savings for the 2024 season. Paired with the release of David Bakhtiari and De’Vondre Campbell, it gave Green Bay the cap space to sign McKinney and Jacobs.

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