The Green Bay Packers are likely to seek a replacement for running back AJ Dillon during the 2024 offseason with the former second-round pick due to hit NFL free agency in March. Should they desire another power-rushing partner to pair with star Aaron Jones, they may find an ideal match in free agent Derrick Henry.
Henry just played out the end of his four-year, $50 million contract with the Tennessee Titans in 2024 and finished with double-digit rushing touchdowns for a sixth straight season, but the 30-year-old superstar is not expected to fetch nearly the same price on the market in 2024.
Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon also argued that Henry — a two-time All-Pro and NFL rushing leader — might be more interested in chasing a Super Bowl title than pushing for a contract that would pay him the absolute most in 2024 NFL free agency. If he is right, he believes the Packers could be one of the top landing spots for ‘King Henry.’
“Dallas may fall in love with Henry’s name value and hope a solid offensive line boosts the 30-year-old close to exiting his prime,” Kenyon wrote on February 3. “Green Bay fits a similar mold, especially if Aaron Jones takes another pay cut.”
The Packers must first reach a new agreement with Jones, who is entering the final year of his contract and will carry a cap charge of about $17 million in 2024. Once they figure out how to keep Jones around, though, Green Bay might feel compelled to open up its pockets and add a high-quality running mate for him to next year’s backfield.
How Much Are Packers Willing to Invest in a New RB?
Henry’s resume speaks for itself. Over his first eight NFL seasons, he churned out 9,502 rushing yards and 90 rushing touchdowns and led the league in both categories during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also finished the 2023 season with the second-most yards after contact (930) behind San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey, a promising mark for someone the Packers would count on to be a goal-line/short-yardage bruiser.
Beyond his rushing prowess, Henry has also grown into more of a pass-catching role. The Titans designed more screen plays for him over the past two seasons, and he took those opportunities and used them to add another element to his already-strong game.
The real question is about Henry’s market. How much would the Packers have to spend to secure the prolific power runner? Pro Football Focus projects Henry could sign for as much as $10 million annually on his next contract, but Spotrac calculates his market value as being much lower with a projected average annual salary of $4.5 million.
Based on their needs and spending history, the Packers would likely not be willing to spend as much as $10 million on another running back unless they unexpectedly lost Jones during the offseason. The temptation could become real, though, if Henry’s actual price range ends up being closer to $4 million to $6 million annually in 2024.
Aaron Jones Expected to Return to Packers in 2024
The Packers will need to make some type of move with Aaron Jones during the 2024 offseason. His aforementioned $17.02 million cap hit next season is too expensive for the Packers to leave untouched. They could ask the 29-year-old to take another pay cut as he did in 2023 or restructure his current contract for savings, but they might prefer to negotiate a new deal that ties him to the team beyond the upcoming season.
Either way, the Packers sound determined to keep Jones in the fold next season.
“I think for us, it’s finding a way to keep him out there and keep him healthy,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said in his February 1 news conference. “Not only on the field but — and you guys know this, you guys have been around here — he’s such an influential leader in our locker room. He’s just really the heartbeat of our team. That’s certainly the anticipation, that he’ll be back.”
Jones struggled with availability due to injuries in 2023, but he bookended the year with five consecutive 100-yard performances and proved he has plenty of gas left in the tank when he is healthy enough to play. The Packers might have a tougher decision to make if another was running back ready to step up as Jones’ replacement, but Dillon did not live up to expectations in 2023, making Jones their undisputed No. 1.
Realistically, a two-year extension that runs through the 2025 season makes the most sense for the Packers and Jones. Green Bay is already going to be paying out roughly $6.6 million in dead money to Jones in 2025 — when he is no longer under contract. Adding even one legitimate year onto his deal would allow them to better spread his earnings over the coming years.
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