With the franchise tag deadline past us, Aaron Jones will officially test free agency this offseason. Over the last few seasons, teams have been willing to pay big money to the running back position, however, it is not a given that Jones will get the $15 million per year deal he is seeking.
On the bright side, Jones has now posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with double-digit touchdowns in each. This past season, Jones totaled 1,104 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns, and 47 catches for 355 receiving yards.
Here are my top three landing spots for Jones and how much money he would likely be offered.
After trading for DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray having a breakout season, the Cardinals are now in win mode. Starting running back Kenyan Drake is also set to become a free agent, leaving the door wide open for a new bell cow in Arizona.
Jones, who averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season, will help take the pressure off Murray and allow for a better offensive scheme. For instance, play-action and designed quarterback runs will be more effective due to the threat of Jones in the backfield. Jones has also proven to be a great pass catcher, allowing the Cardinals to be more creative with their personnel.
Arizona has limited cap space, however, Jones could be the addition that pushes this team to the next level. Jones will likely get more money elsewhere, but if he wants a chance to win, we may see him in red and black next season.
Estimated offer: Four years, $40 million
Miami had an interesting backfield last season, experimenting with Jordan Howard and Matt Breida before handing the starting duties to rookie Myles Gaskin. With Howard and Breida hitting free agency, Jones would take over the starting spot for the Dolphins.
Miami has one of the top defenses in the league and several weapons on the offensive end, including quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Jones would allow the Dolphins to lean on a more run-heavy offense, which would help Tagovailoa get more comfortable throwing the football.
The Dolphins have over $33 million to spend this offseason, enough to comfortably reel in Jones. Similarly to Arizona, Jones will get more money from other teams, but the Dolphins have a great chance to make the playoffs next season.
Estimated offer: Three years, $36 million
After starting last season 11-0, Pittsburgh fell apart in the second half of the season and exited the playoffs in the first round. Regardless, they have a very talented roster and tons of playmakers on both sides of the field. Starting running back James Conner is expected to leave Pittsburgh in free agency, allowing Jones to take over his bell-cow role.
Pittsburgh signed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a one-year deal, which shows they are making a run for the Super Bowl next season. Jones will be a major step up from Conner who struggled with injuries throughout his tenure with the Steelers. Also, based on Mike Tomlin’s prior use with Le’Veon Bell, Jones would likely see more touches than he used to with the Packers.
The Steelers have the fifth-most cap space this offseason and are in a great position to make the playoffs. Jones should expect an offer.
Estimated offer: Four years, $54 million
Jones has done enough in his career to get a big contract this offseason, now it comes down to what team he will pick. There is still a strong likelihood he returns to the Packers, although they are currently struggling to stay below the cap limit. Regardless, whoever Jones signs with will be getting a star player for the next several seasons.
Follow Kyle O’Connell on Twitter @KyleOConnell23
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images