Running backs don’t get paid like they used to, but the leauge still makes exceptions for an elite free agent like Aaron Jones. Jones has been one of the most efficient backs in the league over the past three years and is finally getting his chance to hit the open market. There should be no shortage of suitors for the former fifth-round pick, but which teams have the best chance of landing the talented runner?
2021 Free Agent Team Fits: Aaron Jones
The most obvious fit on the list, the Miami Dolphins are in serious need of playmakers for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins tried to upgrade the running back position last year with Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, but neither player was capable of overtaking Myles Gaskin. Gaskin is a fine role player, but he lacks the ability to be a true three-down weapon like Jones. Armed with over $25 million in available cap space, Miami should be able to pay Jones without hindering their ability to improve other parts of the roster.
The Buffalo Bills are in win-now mode. The team boasts a great quarterback in Josh Allen, a fantastic core of wide receivers, and a defense that is good enough to go along for the ride. The one thing they don’t have is running backs, as Devin Singletary and Zack Moss both leave a lot to be desired. Jones would clearly be an upgrade on the young runners, but Buffalo might not have the money to make a deal happen.
As of this posting, the Bills are roughly $1 million over the salary cap. While they can easily clear some space, signing Jones would probably mean that they couldn’t go after any other major players in free agency. Buffalo will need to decide if they’d rather have Jones or multiple depth pieces along the roster.
The Arizona Cardinals desperately wanted Kenyan Drake to be a featured part of their offense. The team surrendered a fifth-round pick for half a season of service in 2019 and paid him $8.4 million on the transition tag last year. While he improved down the stretch, Drake simply did not live up to expectations in 2020. Kliff Kingsbury clearly wants a three-down back and doesn’t have a problem with spending top money to secure those services.
Nobody believes in the power of the run game more than Pete Carroll. After posting one of the highest run rates for years on end, Seattle finally started throwing the ball early and often in 2020. This change in philosophy got Brian Schottenheimer fired, and Carroll wants to return to the ground-and-pound offense of yesteryear. Russell Wilson might not like it, but Carroll ultimately gets the final say in these types of decisions. With reports that Chris Carson might be on the way out, there’s no better way to upgrade the position than by getting the best running back on the market.
Green Bay Packers
Of course, the most likely scenario is that Aaron Jones never becomes a free agent and sticks around in Green Bay. The runner is a perfect fit for Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur’s offense, and Green Bay’s elite offensive line allows him to be one of the most effective runners in the game. Rodgers provides an excellent opportunity to win a ring and Green Bay shouldn’t have any problem paying him to stick around. Even with A.J. Dillon already on the roster, the Packers should have plenty of room to retain Jones’ services.
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