A shrinking running back market and a depressed cap have taken a major chunk out of the franchise-tag number at the position. With the Packers signing running back Aaron Jones to a four-year, $48 million deal with a $13 million signing bonus, an obvious question arises: Why didn’t the Packers simply tag Jones this year and, if necessary, next year?
With the franchise tag for running backs at $8.655 million in 2021, the Packers could have paid out $19.041 million over the next two years, given the 20-percent raise Jones would have earned if tagged again in 2022. They also would have been protected against injury or ineffectiveness in 2021, allowing them a way out on a one-year, seven-figure deal. It ultimately would make little sense for the Packers to commit to paying more than $19.041 million over the next two years.
The difference, of course, is that the Packers will have a pair of option years on the back end of Jones’ contract, where they can choose to keep him if they want.
Regardless, the franchise-tag dynamic becomes another interesting data point in the full breakdown and analysis of the Jones contract. The signing bonus puts him well ahead of the game under the 2021 tag. If Jones ends up with more than $19.041 million fully guaranteed at signing, Jones also will be ahead of the game through 2022.