Dillon back on a one-year deal in Green Bay

Boston College alum will form new one-two punch with Jacobs
By: 
Luke Reimer
Green & Gold Express

After the news broke about Josh Jacobs signing with the Packers, fans and media members thought that meant AJ Dillon was on his way out of town.

After battling injuries and a decline in play and on an expiring contract, it seemed likely the marriage between Dillon and the Packers was over. That was not the case though. Green Bay opted to move on from Aaron Jones and bring Dillon back on a one-year deal. It will now be Jacobs and Dillon who will create the one-two punch for Green Bay, not Jacobs and Jones.

“You have to have two,” said Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst. “AJ has done a great job for us the past four years, and we would love to have him back.”

Green Bay took an unorthodox route to re-signing Dillon, as it brought him back on a four-year qualifying contract. What that means is Dillon was offered a contract because he was on the team for four uninterrupted consecutive credited seasons. Because Dillon was on the 90-man active/inactive roster for those four consecutive years, he qualified for this contract.

A qualifying contract comes under the pretense of a one-year deal with a base salary of up to $1.45 million more than the base player. So, Dillon can max that contract to $2.57 million, but just the $1.45 million will be counted against the salary cap. This is a rarely used contract in the league, as many teams either agree to an extension earlier in the players’ career or use the franchise tag.

Contract aside, bringing Dillon back is another minimal risk deal for the Packers. If Dillon is able to finally turn into the bruiser that he was drafted to be, then Green Bay can worry about his contract next offseason, but if injuries and inconsistencies slow him down again, there is not a big financial burden.

As for his expectations this season, Dillon once again figures to slide into the number two running back position. In 2023, Dillon rushed for 613 yards and two touchdowns but was only able to garner 3.4 yards per carry, which was the lowest of his career. Those numbers figure to increase this year without Jones. Dillon is back healthy and should be used early to help ease Jacobs into the Packers backfield.

Both head coach Matt LaFleur and Gutekunst have talked about their affinity toward big backs, so having Dillon and Jacobs should provide the offense with two players who can carry the load.

“AJ’s been a great member of our team,” LaFleur said after the season. “You’ve got to have multiple backs in this league, you have to. It’s just the pounding these guys take. I think you could really see his value every year toward the end of the season.”

All in all, bringing Dillon back is probably a smart move for the Packers. One of the running backs probably needed to go, especially with the signing of Jacobs, and keeping Dillon as opposed to Jones allows the Packers a little more flexibility when it comes to its financial position.

The Packers did bring Dillon back on a one-year prove it deal last year, but injuries and inconsistencies did not allow the team to get to see Dillon at his best. One final contract for Dillon will be the last thing that Green Bay should use to make a decision on how long it is going to keep Dillon.

It is fairly obvious Gutekunst and LaFleur do not want to give up the Boston College alum, and when he is at his best, there are not many more powerful runners in the NFL. Dillon will probably see an increase in workload this season, given his improvement in pass blocking. With Jordan Love continuing to develop his skills, having a strong running game and the ability to keep him upright will only benefit his career as the Packers quarterback.

Dillon has also shown a propensity to be valuable in the pass game as well. With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Dillon totaled 540 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He added another 223 receiving yards under Love. In total, Dillon registered 10.1 yards per reception, which ranks second in his career.