If it is up to Aaron Jones, he will be with the Green Bay Packers for the rest of his career.
Speaking Tuesday to the media for the first time since right after the NFC title game loss in San Francisco, the running back was asked about his mindset heading into the final year of his rookie contract.
“Whether it’s my first year or my last year on a deal, I’m going to be just as motivated,” Jones told reporters on a Zoom conference call. “It doesn’t change just because a contract is on (the) line for me. I’m going to continue to work and do everything in my power. I trust my agency and the Packers. With that, I would love to be a lifelong Packer.”
After flashing major potential his first two seasons, the UTEP product delivered on that potential and more in 2019. He ran for 1,084 yards, added 474 yards receiving and scored an NFL-best 19 touchdowns.
But many teams are hesitant to give big money to a running back, no matter how productive they’ve been. The Los Angeles Rams did with Todd Gurley, and it was a mistake. The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t with Melvin Gordon, and it was the smart move. It remains to be seen if it will pay off for the Carolina Panthers, who made Christian McCaffrey the highest-paid running back in the league at an average of $16.02 million per year.
“I’m really not looking at the market. I’m just focused on myself,” Jones said. “I feel like I can play at a really high, elite level for a very long time. I’m just going to do what I can. Hopefully, that leads to me being a Packer for life. That’s my goal.”
Almost none of the backs listed among the top-10 highest-paid players for 2020 had a better season than Jones last year. Unlike almost all of those teams, though, the Packers took a running back in the second round of the draft, grabbing Boston College’s AJ Dillon. That high of a pick on a guy that would currently be third on the depth chart would suggest the team is investing in its present and its future, and it’s unclear if Jones will be a part of the latter.
“I know I have no control over that, so it doesn’t disappoint me to know they are bringing in competition to keep the rooms competitive, make sure everyone is competing and just raise the level of competition,” Jones said. “It’s not that I’m surprised or anything. It’s the NFL. You never know what can happen.”
With Jones coming off the kind of season he had, it made sense to ask what he could do to top 2019. Instead of focusing on his individual success, he pointed to the team.
“I want to win the Super Bowl. We were one game short. It’s not all about me. It’s about the team,” Jones said. “That’s all of our goals. I’m focused on our team’s main goal.”
Still, the contract will loom over Jones and the Packers if a deal doesn’t get done before the season.
“It’s not up to me. It’s nothing I can control. It’s what I was always told as a little kid, ‘control what you can control,’” Jones said. “If I can control what I can control, I feel like it will be taken care of.”