In recent years, the Packers have reworked Aaron Jones' contract to lower his cap number. He even took a pay cut this past offseason. But all the restructuring did was push the problem into future years, beginning in 2024.
Jones turns 29 next month. He's in his seventh season with the Packers. A drop-off in production in the next couple of seasons won't come as a surprise. It's common for running backs.
That's why the Packers can't afford to take on his $17.17 million cap hit in 2024. Restructures mean they will pay an additional $6.64 million in 2025, even though Jones will no longer be under contract. Green Bay previously added a void year to his deal to spread out the money.
Releasing Jones in the offseason would make running back a position of need in the draft, and the Packers would still pay $12.36 million in dead money, saving only $4.82 million. But Green Bay would no longer pay anything in 2025. Like with Preston Smith's contract, the Packers would take a short-term hit but benefit after a year.
If the plan is to restore a healthy salary cap in 2025, the time to move on from Jones is this upcoming offseason.