Miami Dolphins: Signing Aaron Jones should be a priority
By Jeremy Klump
The Miami Dolphins have been one of the most talked-about teams this offseason. A large part of that can be attributed to the Deshaun Watson rumors, but trading for Watson would be terrible. Outside of the Watson talk, a story that has made its way through Dolphins’ Twitter was that the Dolphins will pursue free agent running back Aaron Jones.
According to Evan Massey and Ian Wharton, the Dolphins are going to have heavy interest and are one of the teams most likely to sign Jones.
My initial reaction was, “Wow, that would be great for the Dolphins. I’ve had some time to sit and think about it, and WOW, that would be AMAZING for the Dolphins.
This should be music to Dolphins’ fan’s ears. Jones is one of the best running backs in the NFL and just turned 26 in December. At a bare minimum, the Dolphins can get three more years of elite production from him.
The big question will be, “What will it cost to sign Jones?” According to Spotrac.com, Jones’ contract will be in the ballpark of a 4-year, $58.4 million, or somewhere around $14.6 million per year. That’s a significant number. That would make Jones the 4th highest-paid running back on a per-year basis in the NFL. Only Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and Ezekiel Elliott would be paid more.
There is a lot to dissect here, but let’s start with this: Aaron Jones is a top 10 running back in the NFL. Is he top 5? Well, that is up for a debate, but he’s definitely in the conversation and deservedly so. If the Dolphins believe Jones is a top 5 running back and pay him as such, I wouldn’t argue with them on that. He’s that good, in my opinion, so it would make sense for him to get paid the money he has earned and deserved.
Jones is extremely talented, and his last two seasons have been unreal. He has run for 2,188 yards and 25 touchdowns while adding 96 receptions for 829 yards and 5 touchdowns. That gives him 3,017 total yards and 30 total touchdowns the last two years, or around 1,508 total yards and 15 total touchdowns per year. Those are insane numbers.
Paying a running back a lot of money is a tough call because usually, it isn’t smart to allocate a ton of cap space to the running back position. However, remember that the Dolphins have the famous “Rookie quarterback on a rookie deal window.” Having Tua Tagovailoa on a rookie deal will allow the Dolphins to get creative as they build their team around him.
Another critical factor is that Jones will only cost the Dolphins money. Unlike trading for Watson, who will demand tons of vital assets, Jones will only cost cap space, which the Dolphins have and can quickly create more with some roster cuts.
Then there is the 2021 NFL Draft. The big problem is that Dolphins fans have already pre-ordered their Najee Harris jerseys. That starts the debate, which player would you rather have and for the cost? Would you rather have Najee Harris for Pick 18 or Aaron Jones for 4 years at $14.6 million per year?
I understand both sides’ arguments, but I have to be completely honest; Jones at 4 years, $14.6 million, which I think will be a little lower anyway, is the no-brainer here. Taking a running back in the 1st round is never worth it in my eyes. If you look at the top 10 running backs this season for rushing yards, the top seven were not 1st round picks. If you go by rushing touchdowns, eight of the top 10 were not 1st round picks.
It is well known that you can find value at running back after the 1st round, which is why the Dolphins need to go all-in on signing Jones. Adding him to the offense and not giving up any assets to do so would be amazing. You would enter the draft with Tagovailoa, Jones, Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, and Myles Gaskin and then still have Pick 3, 18, and the two 2nd rounders. That is also saying you only sign Jones in free agency, but the Dolphins could sign a receiver as well.
Think about this scenario after signing Jones: Miami takes DeVonta Smith, who is going to be a star in the NFL. Then they add a combination of a pass catcher and an offensive lineman with their next 3 picks. They would have given Tagovailoa 3 more weapons on offense and bolstered the offensive line. That would make Miami a legitimate contender heading into the 2021 NFL season and beyond. First, they need to sign Jones, and signing him should be a priority.