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Mutual interest between Miami Dolphins and Aaron Jones in NFL free agency

NFL free agency: Aaron Jones, Miami Dolphins
Jan 16, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) reacts after a first down in the second quarter during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of what happens at quarterback, the Miami Dolphins are going to upgrade on offense. That could now apparently include signing Aaron Jones from the Green Bay Packers.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported on Tuesday that there’s mutual interest between the Dolphins and the star running back.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The likes of Matt Breida, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed left a lot to be desired at running back for the Dolphins a season ago. They spearheaded a rushing attack that finished in the bottom 11 in yards and bottom three in yards per rush.

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How would Aaron Jones fit in with the Miami Dolphins?

Aaron Jones contract, Green Bay Packers
Oct 5, 2020; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) scores and celebrates a touchdown on the first drive against the Atlanta Falcons during their football game Monday, October 5, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY NETWORK

Whether it is Tua Tagovailoa or someone by the name of Deshaun Watson under center in South Beach next season, Jones would be a tremendous fit.

The former fifth-round pick from Utah has been sensational over the past two seasons. This span has seen him tally 3,017 total yards at a clip of 5.7 yards per rush while scoring a whopping 30 touchdowns. Only Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook have been more productive over the past two seasons.

It’s also important to note that Aaron Jones is a solid receiving threat. Since the start of the 2019 season, the Pro Bowler has caught 96 passes while hauling in north of 73% of his targets. Dolphins running backs tallied a combined 74 receptions a season ago.

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What might an Aaron Jones contract look like?

NFL rumors: Aaron Jones
Dec 13, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers could place that dreaded franchise tag on Jones over the next couple weeks, guaranteeing him roughly $8 million in 2021. Given how far apart the two sides have been in contract talks, that would be a less-than-ideal scenario.

The likelier option is that Green Bay allows Jones to test the free-agent waters. He’s said to be looking for top-five running back money.

That would come in at an estimated $14.2 million annually. Given the nature of the NFL salary cap during these unprecedented times, it remains to be seen if any team would be willing to dole that out to a running back on the open market.

Read More: Best Aaron Jones landing spots, potential contract in 2021 free agency

The Dolphins currently find themselves $26.89 million under the cap. It’s a figure we expect to increase big time as general manager Chris Grier prepares for NFL free agency.

This could include saving north of $21 million by restructuring the contracts of Kyle Van Noy and Byron Jones, among others. Meanwhile, wide receivers Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns are prime cut candidates. These moves would bring the Dolphins to north of $55 million under the cap, easily making an Aaron Jones signing possible.

Either way, Miami isn’t targeting just the wide receiver position in free agency. The team has holes at running back. Kicking the tires on the best available player at this position makes sense.

It’s also important to note that signing Aaron Jones would enable Miami to avoid running back with the four picks it has in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft. It makes sense from a roster-building perspective. Whether this possibility makes sense financially is a completely different question.

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