The Packers offense ranked #1 in the league this year.
The defense was average, which is about as good as they’ve been over the last decade.
The Packers last the last two NFCCGs with deficiencies on defense and the offensive line.
Going into the offseason, the list of needs was long: cornerback, defensive line, offensive tackle, and wide receiver are the most-mentioned.
In a year with a depressed cap, when they had to restructure deals and cut multiple starters just to get under the cap, they spent premium money to re-sign Aaron Jones, even though they drafted AJ Dillon in the 2nd round last year (who seemed to be Jones’s replacement) and he performed well in limited duty last year.
So what were they thinking?
Let’s step into all the things that they must believe in order to make a move like this.
They believe Aaron Jones is the exception to the rule
They would not spend money on re-signing a guy if they didn’t think he was good. In the face of every measure that says “don’t pay running backs,” the Packers still gave Jones premium money. There’s no doubt he’s a premier back, but even premier backs have proven to be poor investments on second contracts across the league. The Packers use Jones as a rusher, a receiver, and a blocker and they clearly believe he is a special player who elevates their team.
They will continue to be a team that leans on their offense
With all the needs on defense, and very limited cap resources, the Packers chose to put their money into the offense. For the last decade, they’ve been a team that needs to lean on the offense to win. They’ve spent free agent dollars and high draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, but with limited results. They seem to be resigned to the fact that they will be a team that lives and dies by their offense for the foreseeable future.
They expect Joe Barry to be a difference maker
Without adding defensive players in free agency (they actually cut a starter), the only way they could improve would be through coaching and internal development (which is a direct result of coaching). To that end, they’ve added a new Defensive Coordinator. Working with largely the same pieces as last year, he will be expected to turn a liability into a winning piece.
All of that adds up to the biggest conclusion of all:
The Packers are “ALL IN”
Fans have been asking for a more aggressive approach for years. The Packers made a lot of moves in free agency a couple years ago, have moved up on the 1st round of the draft to target defenders twice in the last three years, and now are moving cap money into the future so they can keep an integral part of their offense.
Will it work?
That remains to be seen.
The Packers have been right on the edge of the Super Bowl the last two years – and seemed like they were one twisted knee or one playcall away from bringing home a title last year. But they did it all while keeping a healthy cap and a drafting their quarterback of the future.
Now, they’ve mortgaged the future during an uncertain time when we can no longer count on guaranteed cap increases. We all hope the new TV deals fixes the Packers cap issues, but they’re starting off in a hole. It feels like part of a bigger plan, though, more than poor management.
I don’t believe Brian Gutenkunst is an idiot making emotional decisions.
I don’t believe Russ Ball has no idea how to manage a cap.
I don’t believe that Mark Murphy is more focused on sledding hills than winning.
I believe that the entire organization, from the top of the front office to the bottom of the front office, have agreed that now is the time to go all in. I believe they’ve had dozens of strategy meetings to discuss the future of the franchise and that the results of those meetings were that now was a time when it made sense to be more aggressive, to tap into future resources now, and make a more aggressive push a title this year.
Will it work?
Time will tell.
What we do know is that teams make aggressive short-term moves at the expense of the future all the time… and they rarely end with a Super Bowl victory.
Look at the Packers last Super Bowl victory. Things came together at the right time – it was not the result of a big monster push that put them over the top.
That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but the odds of winning the Super Bowl are always low.
It’s clear that the Packers brass thinks they have better odds than most other teams though, and they’re willing to take the calculated risk by eating up future resources to try to win now.
Some fans like it, some don’t, some are torn.
The future is even more uncertain now than it was in the past… but it sure is exciting.
Let’s enjoy the ride.
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1 thought on “The Logic Behind The Packers Re-Signing Aaron Jones”
Color me torn. I don’t believe in “all in” if it means you cripple yourself with a best case scenario of having only one shot to win in 1 particular year, eliminating the possibility of winning again in later years. So much goes into a super bowl season, you have to build a team to win every year. I like picking up a few choice pieces and farming the rest through draft and develop. If you go all-in for just one season, the odds are still really slim that you win the SB. Great seasons are like the draft. The odds of winning are low with fewer swings of the bat. You need as many opportunities as possible.
I love Jones, and I was really sad to think he had to go. (Personality-wise I will miss Jamal so much more). I am certain that for future years, we’ll get some cap relief, but how can you know how much will come?
Some news since I declared Jones gone months ago: A new tv deal is in fact agreed on, if not already on paper. Knowing they wanted INSANE additional tv money (even by NFL standards) as a starting position, whatever money they agreed upon will be an improvement. So the cap will get a bump there for sure. The NFL doesn’t take LESS money, ever.
The other cap related money generator issue is, we’re very likely filling stadiums next year. I think the NFL has been snowing the NFLPA a lot about how the lack of fans impacts the bottom line. (How many hot dogs and beers does each fan have to drink over the course of 8 home games to compete with the gazillions they get in TV money? A LOT I suspect, but I digress) Per the NFL, they lost STAGGERING amounts because stadiums were empty. That will not happen this fall. Covid or no, the NFL is going to put people in those stands. The owners didn’t get where they are by losing a single dollar when it could be avoided (See the past 2 CBA’s), and unless prohibited by law, the NFL owners and a large percentage of the vaccinated and unvaccinated population will be fine with full stadiums. So, the inflated losses at the gate and hot dog stand are coming back.
So, the lost stadium hot dog revenue, will come back, and the tv money will go up. Enough to fix what just happened? I do hope so, but that’s next season. Enough to fix the short term damage we’re about to do in order fix the problem we just caused? I don’t know.
We were nearly in compliance with the cap before signing Jones to a huge deal. You can’t add here without subtracting someplace else. Are we going to cut someone? Are we going to do something to Rodgers contract that ensures he’s leaving soon? Personally I’d actually like to see us extend Rodgers. I’m fine having Love here, but we also have one of the all time greats right now and don’t know what Love will turn into. If Rodgers is willing to stay, I want him here. But if we mortgage our future so that Rodgers last couple years are guaranteed duds, he’s guaranteed gone. If we engineer the cap so we can’t afford him because we’re paying Aaron Jones instead, he’s guaranteed gone.
All these all-in people always forget, the source of their all-in philosophy is a person with a shelf life, and their idea of all-in generally results in their hero either sucking or leaving earlier than necessary in the short time he’s got left here. If Rodgers is the source of success, and he’s fine with taking over 20% of our cap resulting in the Packers fielding a shitty team, then you should too, as he’s the leader of the movement and he knows what he needs. If he wants some infrastructure around him, then HE has got to give up something, as we can’t sign impact free agents AND pay 1 person 20% of the cap. I’m ok if he doesn’t, this is a business. But if he isn’t taking less money, then he needs to be out there drumming up money to get that cap up, because he can’t have it both ways.
Anyway, Choose. Do you want Rodgers here for 1 good year and 2 crappy years? Do you want to give him a fair chance to win it all for each year he’s here? Do you want him to stay here even longer than his current contract? All of these things have consequences. But by all means, get your info on twitter to make your informed decisions. Only good can come of that.