The Green Bay Packers have an emerging star in AJ Dillon, which is bad news for Aaron Jones.
Green Bay Packers rookie running back AJ Dillon finally arrived in Week 16 against the Tennessee Titans in a breakout performance. With usual backup Jamaal Williams inactive due to injury, Dillon seized every opportunity. While Aaron Jones still ran for 94 yards, it was Dillon who stole the spotlight and potentially Jones’ starting role next season.
Dillon impressed in his first audition as the Packers’ lead back, racking up 124 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. The 250-pound monster of a man ran all over the Titans defense in the second half, helping the Packers reach 40 points for the fourth time this season.
Perhaps most notably, though, was the fact that it was Dillon who got the vote of confidence from coach Matt LaFleur when the Packers needed one yard on fourth down from the Titans’ 30-yard line.
In what was still a 12-point game at the time, Dillon burst through the line of scrimmage for not only a first down but a touchdown, running past two Tennessee defenders, both of whom appeared to make sound business decisions by electing not to tackle Green Bay’s bulldozing runner.
“I think AJ has got a bright future, and we’ll do our best to put him in there. But a lot of it’s predicated on how the game’s going,” LaFleur said after the game.
Meanwhile, Jones eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight year against the Titans, but it’s been a rather quiet season overall for the Packers’ dynamic running back. While Jones was named to his first Pro Bowl last week, there seems to be something missing this season.
Could the Green Bay Packers let Aaron Jones walk in favor of AJ Dillon this offseason?
Jones, who’s currently in the final year of his contract, has not made much progress on a new deal with Packers brass after starting negotiations last spring. In fact, negotiations were going so poorly, that Jones recently fired his agent and signed Drew Rosenhaus to be his new representation.
Rosenhaus will have a hard time negotiating with the Packers on a fair price for his client, however, especially If Dillon continues to impress into the postseason.
Additionally, recent history tells us that re-signing running backs to second contracts rarely work out for teams in the long run. There’s no doubt Jones is going to want top dollar for his talents – as he should — but it’s hard to see Green Bay caving in to such demands.
A deal worth an annual value of $12 million would be reasonable for both sides, but even then, is it worth it for the Packers?
With the emergence of Dillon, who showed he’s more than capable of handling a full workload against Tennessee, it appears extremely risky for the team to allocate a large chunk of their salary cap to an easily replaceable position.
The Packers would be wise in letting Jones test the free agent market this spring, and then potentially match any offer he receives from other teams. Not to mention the prospect of drafting another running back, as well.