Packers 2021 free agency: Ranking best running backs available

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Jones (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Jones (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Running back could be a need for the Green Bay Packers this offseason with both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams set to hit free agency.

While it’s unlikely the Packers will turn to free agency at running back unless it’s to re-sign either Jones or Williams, let’s take a look at the best RBs who could be available.

I’ve ranked the top five.

1. Aaron Jones

Yes, if the Packers want to land the best running back available in free agency, look no further than the man who has consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in Green Bay.

The question this week is whether the Packers will decide to use the franchise tag to ensure Jones doesn’t leave in free agency. With Over The Cap estimating the franchise tag would cost the Packers around $8 million, it has to be a consideration.

Jones is a star. He’s explosive between the tackles, a great pass-catcher, and turns small gains into huge touchdowns by making defenders miss.

The Packers won’t find a better free-agent running back than Jones. If they are going to spend money at the position, it would make sense to re-sign him.

2. Chris Carson

If Green Bay loses Jones in free agency, I’d expect the team to focus on the draft to add more depth at the position.

However, if GM Brian Gutekunst is open to signing a free agent, Chris Carson could be the next best option behind Jones. Carson has 21 rushing touchdowns over the past three seasons, and twice he’s gone over 1,000 yards.

The biggest concern is staying healthy. Carson has never completed a full 16-game season in the NFL.

Spotrac projects Carson to make $7.4 million per year, significantly less than what Jones could make. But that’s still a lot to pay, and Carson’s injury history is a concern.

3. Kenyan Drake

Kenyan Drake had a solid season as the starting running back in Arizona, putting up 955 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. But expectations were sky-high entering the season. Perhaps a 1-2 punch of Drake and AJ Dillon would be perfect for the Packers.

Drake is a talented pass-catcher with 1,244 career receiving yards and six touchdowns. But Drake’s contract may be too expensive for the Packers.

4. Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette saved his best football for the playoffs last season with 300 yards and three touchdowns in four postseason games. But he didn’t make a big impact in the regular season with only 367 yards to go with six touchdowns.

Still, Fournette is only a year removed from a 1,152-yard season. Twice in the past four seasons he’s gone over 1,000 yards.

5. James Conner

In his first year as the Steelers’ starting running back in 2018, James Conner impressed with 973 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s struggled to maintain that form, however, and finished with only 721 yards and six TDs last season.

Still, Conner is talented player. He averages 4.3 yards per carry and also has 963 receiving yards over the past three seasons. Spotrac’s projection has Conner signing a two-year deal worth $10.82 million. Signing Conner could be an affordable option for the Packers.