aaron-jones-packers.jpg

If Aaron Jones hits 2021 NFL free agency, he'll likely be among the most coveted veterans on the market, especially after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and a key role in two straight NFC Championship Game appearances. But the Green Bay Packers are prepared to use every avenue to ensure the star running back doesn't hit the market at all. Jones has expressed before his desire to be a "lifelong Packer," and Green Bay has reportedly been eyeing an extension since early in 2020. Just in case a new deal isn't finalized, however, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said Tuesday the team isn't ruling out using the franchise tag.

"It's very much case by case," Gutekunst told reporters. "It's not an organizational philosophy to not use it. I think every situation is different. It is a tool that is out there for us to use if it makes sense for the football team ... It's always something we'll look at if that's the best situation for us, (and) we'll go ahead and use that if we need to."

Asked to confirm whether the Packers would consider using the tag on Jones, Gutekunst did as much.

"We certainly could," he said. "I think it's something we're working through. There's usually better ways to go about it. But certainly, if we get down the road here, if that becomes what is in the best interest of the Packers, I think we'll do that."

Over The Cap projects 2021 franchise tags for running backs to be about $11 million, which would mark a nearly $9 million raise for Jones this season. There's a chance the Pro Bowler could fetch even more on the open market, perhaps with a more financially flexible team like the Miami Dolphins, especially considering the Packers are still working to amend their own cap concerns.