Packers Choose Not to Tag Aaron Jones, Making Him A Free Agent
Any chance Green Bay Packers fans had to see Aaron Jones stay in the green and gold ended at 2 p.m. today. That was the deadline for NFL teams to place a franchise or transitional tag on their free agents. As a result, Showtyme will now hit the open market and he is free to sign with any team in the league.
Although the tag would have only cost the Packers a little over $8 million, the team was not expected to use it on Jones. Green Bay has not tagged one of their own free agents since 2010, and the team is also over the projected $180 million salary cap. However, if the Packers would have used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jones and another team signed him to a contract that Green Bay refused to match, then the Packers would have received two future first round picks as compensation. That is not a bad consolation prize for a 5th round pick out of UTEP from 2017.
Now the fun really starts. The free agent negotiating period begins on March 15th and free agents can officially sign new contracts when the 2021 league year begins at 1 p.m. MT on March 17th. New agent Drew Rosenhaus will most likely land a large free agent contract for his client, and Jones deserves every penny. All he has done since his rookie season in Green Bay is produce during every opportunity the team gave him. He also is coming off of back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons and his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
The NFL thinking of front offices has changed drastically over the last 5-10 years. Now, many teams believe that running backs are expendable and they are easy to replace through the draft and free agency. That is more reason why the El Pasoan should cash in now on his first free agency and take the largest deal that comes his way. The Packers have had more than a year to try and negotiate a long term deal with the fan favorite, which is why I doubt they will be able to re-sign him before he hits free agency in one week.
As far as teams rumored to be interested in Jones, the Miami Dolphins could be the leaders. Both the organization and Showtyme have mutual interest in #33 going to South Beach. The New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, and Arizona Cardinals have also been mentioned in rumors regarding a future landing spot for Jones. The Cards would be a fun landing spot for so many reasons. First, Phoenix is only a 6-hour drive and one-hour flight from El Paso. Second, former UTEP coach Sean Kugler is now the Cardinals run game coordinator, and you know how much he would love to reunite with his former running back.