Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) celebrates after a play during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Vikings remake backfield, to add QB Sam Darnold, RB Aaron Jones

Sam Darnold and the Minnesota Vikings agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract and bolstered the backfield with another addition as the franchise moves on from quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Former Packers running back Aaron Jones, released Monday, agreed to a $7 million contract for 2024 with Green Bay’s NFC North rival, according to multiple reports.

ESPN and NFL Network first reported details of the Darnold deal, which can become official when the league year begins Wednesday.

Cousins agreed to a four-year, $180 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons within hours of the start of the free agency negotiating period on Monday. Cousins, who turns 36 in August, and the Vikings discussed his return but the price range escalated beyond the franchise’s comfort zone.

Jones and the Packers split following the pending signing of free agent running back Josh Jacobs. The former Raiders first-round pick is set to sign a reported four-year, $48 million deal to replace Jones in Green Bay.

Keeping both would’ve been too expensive and Jones took a paycut to stay with the Packers before the 2023 season.

With 5,940 rushing yards, Jones ranks third in team history, but his next employer will be visiting Lambeau Field as a guest.

“As good of a player as Aaron is on the field, he is an even better person,” said Packers coach Matt LaFleur. “When I arrived in Green Bay as a first-time head coach, he was instrumental in establishing our winning culture and always served as the greatest example of what it meant to be a Packer. Aaron will always be one of the best players I had the opportunity to coach. He, his son, Junior, his mom, Vurgess, and his family will be missed.”

Jones’ cap number for 2024 would’ve been $17,575,824 with Green Bay after missing six games due to injuries last season.

The Vikings released running back Alexander Mattison before free agency began. He started the season as the No. 1 running back but was ineffective, ceding the spot to Ty Chandler. Mattison rushed for a career-best 700 yards in 2023.

In Darnold, the Vikings would add an experienced starter looking to prove he’s deserving of that role again after a one-year stint as Brock Purdy’s backup with the San Francisco 49ers. Darnold, drafted No. 3 overall by the New York Jets in 2018, will be playing for a fourth NFL team in five seasons. He was traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2021.

Darnold, 26, is relatively young for a seventh-year pro. He’s one year and one day older than Steelers 2022 first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett, for example, and Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels of LSU — a likely first-round pick in 2024 — will be 24 years old in December.

Darnold worked under Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. Shanahan was Cousins’ initial offensive coordinator in the NFL and runs a derivative of the same offense Minnesota employs under Kevin O’Connell, whose coaching roots trace to Shanahan comrade Sean McVay.

Cousins was largely a backup for three seasons in Washington before he became a starter in his fourth season. He spent the past six seasons with the Vikings, throwing for more than 4,200 yards four times with 26-plus touchdowns in each of his five full seasons.

Cousins was tied for the NFL lead with 18 touchdown passes when he suffered a ruptured right Achilles eight weeks into the 2023 season.

Minnesota acquired journeyman Joshua Dobbs days later to beat the NFL trade deadline and went through a musical chairs rotation at quarterback without the reliable Cousins at the helm, trying Nick Mullens and 2023 fifth-round pick Jaren Hall when Dobbs faltered after leading a stirring win over the Falcons.

Darnold started the Week 18 regular-season finale in Purdy’s place with the 49ers’ playoff position locked up, completing 16 of 26 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown in a 21-20 loss to the Rams.

The Vikings are expected to be in the market for a quarterback in the draft and have the No. 11 overall pick.

–Field Level Media

Dec 3, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon (28) makes a victory lap after their game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Packers RB AJ Dillon could play with broken thumb

Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon did not practice on Thursday as he gauges whether he can play with a broken right thumb.

Dillon said he suffered the injury on the final drive of the Packers’ loss to the New York Giants on Monday night.

“Got hit with a helmet lined up the right way,” Dillon told reporters. “Hit just right enough. And then we called another run play after that.”

Asked if a running back playing with a broken thumb would have a negative impact on ball security, Dillon said, “That’s a great question. Something I’m trying to figure out.”

Dillon took 15 carries for 53 yards and caught two passes for another 25 yards in the 24-22 defeat. He has served as Green Bay’s No. 1 running back since Aaron Jones sustained a knee injury Nov. 19 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Jones, who has since returned to practice, said Thursday he is “feeling a lot better” and confident he’ll be able to play Sunday against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If neither Dillon nor Jones can go, Patrick Taylor rises to RB1.

Dillon has carried the ball 164 times for 574 yards and one touchdown over 13 games (six starts) this season. He’s added 22 receptions for 223 yards. He has 2,389 rushing yards and 17 total touchdowns (15 rushing, two receiving) in four seasons as Jones’ backup in Green Bay.

The Packers also expect wide receiver Christian Watson (hamstring) to miss his second straight game. Watson missed practice Thursday.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) is helped off the field after getting injured in the second quarter againsst the Los Angeles Chargers during their football game Sunday, November 19, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Report: Packers RB Aaron Jones (knee) out for ‘MNF’

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (knee) is not expected to play Monday night, NFL Network reported.

Jones is likely to miss his third straight game — sixth overall — with the knee injury he first suffered Nov. 19. He’s officially listed as questionable. He was also hampered by a hamstring injury earlier this season.

A.J. Dillon would draw the start for the Packers (6-6) with Patrick Taylor as his backup against the New York Giants (4-8).

Jones has rushed for 245 yards and two touchdowns in seven games this season. He has 19 catches for 169 yards and a TD.

–Field Level Media

July 29, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) and running back A.J. Dillon (28) take part in a drill during the second day of training camp Thursday, July 29, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY NETWORK

Packers RB A.J. Dillon active vs. Lions

Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon is active for Thursday’s road game against the Detroit Lions.

Dillon, who is nursing a groin injury, was one of five players listed as questionable on the injury report.

While Dillon is expected to play on Thursday, fellow running back Aaron Jones was listed as inactive due to a sprained MCL. Joining Jones as inactive for the Packers (4-6) are cornerback Jaire Alexander, wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks, safety Rudy Ford, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, tackle Caleb Jones and tight end Josiah Deguara.

As for the Lions (8-2), they listed the following players as inactive: Defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs, cornerback Steven Gilmore, wide receiver Antoine Green, guard Jonah Jackson, defensive lineman Brodric Martin and linebackers Julian Okwara and Trevor Nowaske.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets running back James Robinson (23) carries the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Packers sign RB James Robinson

The Green Bay Packers picked up free agent running back James Robinson on Tuesday, according to several reports.

The signing comes as Packers lead back Aaron Jones has played in just two of five games this season due to a lingering hamstring injury. Green Bay is coming back from a bye week and will visit the Denver Broncos Sunday.

Robinson, 25, has yet to play in the NFL this season after splitting 2022 between the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets.

He spent portions of the offseason on the New England Patriots’ and New York Giants’ rosters but was released by both teams.

Robinson was an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State in 2020 when he racked up 1,070 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving) as a rookie with the Jaguars.

He ran for 767 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021 while first-round draft pick Travis Etienne missed the season with a Lisfranc injury. But his role was reduced in 2022 when Etienne was healthy, and the Jaguars traded him to the Jets for a sixth-round pick.

Robinson only played in four games for New York and gained 85 yards on 29 carries, adding one receiving touchdown.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs the ball against the Detroit Lions during their football game on Thursday, September 28, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Lions won the game, 34-20.
Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Packers RB Aaron Jones (hamstring) inactive vs. Raiders

The Green Bay Packers will be without running back Aaron Jones on Monday night against the host Las Vegas Raiders because of a nagging hamstring injury.

Jones was kept inactive for the game, along with linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, wide receiver Malik Heath, safeties Anthony Johnson Jr. and Zayne Anderson and tackle Caleb Jones.

Jones was injured in the season-opening victory against the host Chicago Bears, then didn’t play until Sept. 28 in a limited role in a 30-24 home loss to the Detroit Lions. He played 20 snaps in that Thursday night game, ran five times for 18 yards and caught one pass for minus-4 yards.

Jones, 28, has 14 carries for 59 yards and one touchdown, and three receptions for 82 yards and a score in two games this season.

The Packers (2-2), who have a bye next week, signed practice squad running back Patrick Taylor to the active roster on Monday. Taylor, 25, has played in three games this season, with nine rushes for 29 yards and three catches for 23 yards.

AJ Dillon would be the starter without Jones available. Dillon, 25, has 44 carries for 118 yards and three receptions for 25 yards in four games (two starts) this season.

The Packers also elevated cornerback Corey Ballentine from the practice squad to the active roster for the game against the Raiders (1-3), and released linebacker Justin Hollins.

Las Vegas had seven players inactive: cornerbacks Nate Hobbs and Jakorian Bennett, quarterback Aidan O’Connell, safety Chris Smith II, linebacker Amari Burney, defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera and wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs for a touchdown during the second half of their game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike De Sisti-USA TODAY Sports

Packers players expect Aaron Jones, Christian Watson to play vs. Lions

Players in the Green Bay locker room indicated to reporters Tuesday that the Packers would have starting running back Aaron Jones and No. 1 wide receiver Christian Watson for their “Thursday Night Football” matchup against the visiting Detroit Lions.

Both players are fighting hamstring injuries, and both were listed as limited participants in Tuesday’s practice report.

Asked after practice if he was playing Thursday, Watson told reporters, “That’s the plan.”

And fellow wide receiver Romeo Doubs reportedly said, “We’ll have 33 back” without prompting, a reference to Jones’ jersey number.

Jones and Watson would give the Packers (2-1) their full arsenal of offensive weapons for the game against their NFC North rival. Neither played Sunday in the Packers’ 18-17 win over the New Orleans Saints; Watson has yet to make his season debut.

Jones sustained a hamstring injury at the end of his 35-yard touchdown catch-and-run in Green Bay’s 38-20 victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 1. He finished with nine carries for 41 yards and a score as well.

Offensive lineman Zach Tom (knee) and cornerbacks Jaire Alexander (back) and Carrington Valentine (biceps) were upgraded to limited practice participants on Tuesday. Offensive linemen David Bakhtiari (knee, rest) and Elgton Jenkins (knee) missed practice, as did linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (ankle) and safety Zayne Anderson (hamstring).

For the Lions (2-1), center Frank Ragnow returned to practice in full on Tuesday. Tackle Matt Nelson (ankle), guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) and fullback Jason Cabinda (knee) were out.

Detroit tackle Taylor Decker (ankle), guard Jonah Jackson (thigh), running back David Montgomery (thigh), cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (knee, hamstring) and safety Kerby Joseph (hip) were limited.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Injured RB Aaron Jones, WR Christian Watson ‘in similar spot’ for Packers

Ahead of a short week for the Green Bay Packers, it remains unclear whether running back Aaron Jones or wide receiver Christian Watson are ready to return from injury for Week 4.

The Packers did not practice Monday in preparation for Thursday night’s home game against the Detroit Lions, but if they did, Jones and linebacker Rashan Gary would have been limited, coach Matt LaFleur said.

Watson would have been unavailable for practice, as would left tackle David Bakhtiari; left guard Elgton Jenkins; right tackle Zach Tom; linebacker De’Vondre Campbell; cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Carrington Valentine; and safety Zayne Anderson.

The Lions didn’t practice Monday but are 2-1 to start the season and set for a second primetime game in four weeks.

Detroit listed five offensive linemen, including left tackle Taylor Decker (ankle), center Frank Ragnow (toe) and both starting guards, on the approximation of a practice report Monday. The Lions held a walkthrough in which head coach Dan Campbell projected running back David Montgomery (thigh) and fullback Jason Cabinda (knee) as limited.

Jones and Watson would give the Packers their full arsenal of offensive weapons for the game against their NFC North rival. Neither played Sunday in the Packers’ 18-17 win over the New Orleans Saints.

“We were hopeful for (Week 3) but it didn’t work out,” LaFleur said. “We’ll see where we’re at going into Thursday. I think we’re in a similar spot. We’ll see how they respond.”

Jones sustained a hamstring injury at the end of his 35-yard touchdown catch-and-run in Green Bay’s 38-20 victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 1.

Watson, projected to be the Packers’ No. 1 wide receiver, has yet to make his season debut due to his hamstring injury.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs for a touchdown during second half of their game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Packers’ Aaron Jones back at practice; Christian Watson sits out

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones returned to practice Thursday after sitting out last Sunday’s loss in Atlanta with a left hamstring injury.

While the presence of Jones is a promising sign, wide receiver Christian Watson sat out Thursday’s session. Watson turned in a limited practice Wednesday due to a lingering hamstring issue that has prevented him from making his season debut.

Jones, 28, was injured at the end of his 35-yard touchdown catch and run in the Packers’ 38-20 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sept. 10. He finished with nine carries for 41 yards and a score and two receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown.

Jones, who missed practice Wednesday, would give Green Bay’s ground attack a boost after it rushed for just 84 yards on 21 carries in a 25-24 setback to the Falcons.

Watson, 24, recorded 41 catches for 611 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games (11 starts) as a rookie in 2022.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) walk of the after their game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Best 2022 26

RB Aaron Jones reworks deal to stay with Packers

Running back Aaron Jones is reworking his contract to remain with the Green Bay Packers, his agents confirmed Friday to ESPN.

Drew Rosenhaus and Ryan Matha said their client had reached an agreement to reduce his salary for 2023 from $16 million to $11 million in exchange for a signing bonus of $8.52 million.

Jones, 28, rushed for a career-high 1,121 yards and a career-low two touchdowns while starting all 17 games in his sixth season with the Packers in 2022.

Under terms of the four-year, $48 million contract he signed in 2021, he was due to receive a $7.1 million roster bonus next month and an $8.1 million base salary in 2023. The reconfigured deal replaces the roster bonus with a signing bonus, reducing his salary-cap figure.

Since being drafted in the fifth round by Green Bay in 2017, Jones has earned one Pro Bowl selection (2020) and posted three 1,000-yard seasons. He enters 2023 ranked third in franchise history with 5,284 rushing yards, behind only Ahman Green (8,322) and Hall of Fame member Jim Taylor (8,207).

–Field Level Media