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Free Agent Spotlight: Running back, Aaron Jones

From foe to friend for this Green Bay Packers running back?

Just about everyone assumes Leonard Fournette will be moving on from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the emergence of ‘Playoff Lenny’ or ‘Lombardi Lenny’, depending on which nickname you prefer.

If Fournette is really on his way out of town, the question will be whether or not Ronald Jones II is handed the primary back duties, or will the Bucs look elsewhere for a new running mate for Rojo.

One free-agent option could be Aaron Jones. Today, we take a look at what he brings to the table.

Aaron Jones’ Career Thus Far

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK

Aaron Jones and Leonard Fournette were both selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. One was taken in the first round while the other had to wait for the fifth. One was with the team who drafted him when the Green Bay Packers and Buccaneers faced off in the 2020 NFC Championship Game, and the other was on his way to the Super Bowl with the second-team in his career.

Now, Jones could find his way to Tampa Bay in search of a championship turn in his own career, the same way Fournette did. Granted, it’ll be under better circumstances.

Jones has been in the league now for four seasons and started four games as a rookie despite being a late-round draft pick.

He took over as the full-time primary back for Aaron Rodgers’ offense in the 2019 season, and turned in his first of two back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Additionally, his contributions as a receiver increased every year for the first three, and he finished his last two with nearly 40 receptions, over 350-yards receiving, and two or more receiving touchdowns in 2019 and 2020.

Jones earned his Pro Bowl nod this past season, and looks poised to enter free-agency as the best running back available, should he make it to open waters.

Why It Works

Tom Brady’s love of running backs who can contribute to the passing game is well known. Jones isn’t the most accomplished receiver, but he has shown he can contribute.

Jones’ receiving performance in 2020 outpaced both Fournette and Jones for the Bucs, but again, not the biggest numbers to outshine either.

NFL: NFC Championship Game-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Either way, if Fournette is gone, then the team needs at least a number two in the running back room and I’m not convinced Ke’Shawn Vaughn is ready to be the guy just yet.

But....

The reason we think Fournette won’t be back is his price tag. Expected to earn about $8.1M per year on a four-year deal, the team may just not have enough money to pay him that amount.

Does Spotrac.com project Jones to come in any cheaper?

What’s The Cost?

No, not at all. The same sight dedicated to contracts and salary cap evaluation projects Jones to get paid about $14M per year on average in the same four-year span. Are the Buccaneers going to drop $6M per year more on another outside running back signing?

What We Don’t Know

I suppose we have to put that answer in this category. Perhaps the Bucs are so in love with what Jones does on the football field they are willing to pay more money for him than they do for Mike Evans.

Maybe not.

We also don’t know if Jones is looking to take market value, or reset the market.

Either way, the things we don’t know do seem to lean more one way than the other, and it doesn’t seem likely this former opponent is going to become a friendly this off-season.

Make The Decision

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

But don’t take my word for it. You tell us. Is this the guy to open the wallet for?

For more free-agent profiles, make sure you check out our looks at Adrian Peterson, Haason Reddick, Patrick Peterson, K.J. Wright and Leonard Floyd.

Poll

When it comes to Aaron Jones, what would you have the Buccaneers do?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Sign him, no matter what
    (15 votes)
  • 33%
    Make an offer, but keep it reasonable
    (63 votes)
  • 18%
    Invite him for a cup of coffee and see where it goes
    (35 votes)
  • 4%
    Call him up if they have a need after the NFL Draft
    (9 votes)
  • 34%
    Don’t need him
    (65 votes)
187 votes total Vote Now

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