Packers Release Star Running Back, Leave Door Open for Reunion - Sport News

Packers Release Star Running Back, Leave Door Open for Reunion

The Green Bay Packers front office has decided to overhaul its running back room. On Monday, general manager Brian Gutekunst surprised many by agreeing to contract terms with free agent tailback Josh Jacobs.

Source: Dallas Cowboys Interested in Signing Aaron Jones - RB Cut By Green  Bay Packers - in NFL Free Agency; How Much? - FanNation Dallas Cowboys  News, Analysis and More

Shortly after that, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that the Packers have decided to release veteran running back Aaron Jones after seven seasons with the franchise.

This move comes as a result of the Packers inability to reach an agreement on a restructured deal to lower Jones’s cap number for the upcoming 2024 season. The former fifth-round pick’s cap number was slated to be $17,575,824, with a base salary of $11.1 million.

By releasing him now, Green Bay stands to save approximately $5.2 million on the cap. However, this move will also accelerate almost $12.4 million onto the cap as dead money unless designated as a post-June 1st cut, according to Spotrac.

Door Remains Open for Aaron Jones to Return 

Jones agreed to a $5 million pay cut last season to remain with the Green Bay Packers, but another pay cut was not in the cards this time around. Thus, Jones, who is 29 years old, will have the chance to explore opportunities with other teams in free agency for the 2024 season, although there remains a possibility of his return to the Packers.

“This is the scenario where Jones tests the market and see if he can find something better than what the Packers are offering,” Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. “If he can’t, there’s a chance he would come back. How the Jacobs signing affects his point of view could determine if he would even consider a return.”

Jones boasts 5,940 career rushing yards, placing him third in Packers history. His career average of 5.05 yards per carry ranks seventh among all running backs in NFL history with at least 600 carries under their belt.

Despite missing six games due to injury last season, Jones finished the year strong with five consecutive games of 100 or more rushing yards — showing he still has plenty left in the tank.

In addition to Jones, the Packers are also parting ways with left tackle David Bakhtiari and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell in cost-saving moves.

With Jacobs now expected to assume the lead role in the backfield, the Packers will likely turn their focus to the upcoming draft to address their running back needs — while giving Emanuel Wilson a shot to move up the depth chart.

Green Bay Packers Embracing the Youth Movement 

With the Packers moving on from a handful of veteran players, Preston Smith is now the only player over 30 years old on the team.

In 2023, Matt LaFluer’s offense finished No. 11 in the NFL, averaging 345.5 yards per game, with first-year starting quarterback Jordan Love under center — and No. 15 in total rushing yards.

Heading into year two under Love, the front office is doing its best to bring in difference makers whose timeline to impact the team better aligns with the Packers’ win-now window — with Jacobs fitting that bill and offing a nice compliment to their young wide receiver core.

Last season, at 26 years old, Jacobs rushed for 805 yards on 233 carries and scored six touchdowns in 13 games. He played under the franchise tag following a remarkable 2022 season in which he earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.

Jacobs led the NFL with an impressive 1,653 rushing yards at an average of 4.9 yards per carry and scored 12 touchdowns in 2022. The Packers hope to get that version of Jacobs to lead their backfield in 2024 and beyond.

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