The Green Bay Packers have never been a team who spent big to retain talent or to bring in big name players in free agency. The Smith brothers were a move that was unlike management decisions made in the past. Now, Aaron Jones had a big contract dealt out to him in an effort retain major talent for this Packers roster. To many this seems to be a great re-signing. However, long term this deal will likely do the Packers more harm than good. There is a long list of failed running back contracts, and this could very well be the latest addition.
Take Todd Gurley for example, and you have a very similar template to the territory Aaron Jones is entering with the Packers. In 2017 and 2018 Gurley had 2,556 combined rushing yards and 1,368 combined receiving yards per Pro-Football reference. This warranted the Rams to offer him a very large contract, which was abnormal for running backs to receive. Gurley’s production then saw a significant decrease, down to just over 1,000 total yards in the next season. He was then released, and has not since returned to his old self.
The next notable running back contract was that of Le’Veon Bell. Bell wanted a large contract so badly that he held out an entire season, he was then granted his pay day by the Jets. Yet, bell would become the next running back on this list who would disappoint once they got paid. Le’Veon Bell is no longer on the Jets. Much like Gurley, he was cut by the team that gave him such a large contract.
While Packer fans will stay strong by the signing of Aaron Jones, the possibility of this happening once again is quite likely. This trend has shown more often than not for running backs who get large contracts. Not always to this sharp degree, but there is almost always a significant drop off in value.
Running backs who sign long term extensions have large decreases in value after the first year, and rarely remain the starter by the end of the contract. This chart from Overthecap.com shows the average rushing yards per season of the 59 running backs who have signed long term extensions since 2011.
|Contract Length||Prior Year||1st Year||2nd Year||3rd Year||4th Year||5th Year|
If this remains consistent, there is not much hope to believe that Aaron Jones will remain a solid running back by the time his contract is set to expire. Packer fans love him, and he has been fantastic, but the money most likely should have been spent to retain Corey Linsley, or to bolster up the weak defense that is clearly lacking depth.
Aaron Jones very well could be an exception to this list of failed contracts. This does however seem like the more likely option. If the Packers finally get over the hump this year, all signs lead to praising GM Brian Gutekunst for his guts to make this call.——————
Kaleb is currently attending UW Green Bay pursuing an English degree. His lifelong goal is to one day work for ESPN. You can follow him on twitter at @kaleb_baumgart.