Packers RB depth chart: What surprise Josh Jacobs signing, Aaron Jones release mean for Green Bay backfield

The Packers entered the 2024 NFL offseason needing to sign a running back to pair with Aaron Jones. AJ Dillon is a free agent, so it was anticipated that Green Bay would target a veteran to complement Jones or draft a rookie to replace Dillon.

Instead, the Packers took a big swing at one of the top running backs on the free agent market. They won the battle for his services and are set to make him their featured back.

Green Bay is expected to sign former Raiders running back Josh Jacobs to a contract, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Jacobs, 26, was viewed as one of the best running backs on the market in 2024. He endured a difficult season in 2023, carrying the ball 233 times for 805 yards and six touchdowns and lacking the explosion he showcased in previous seasons. 

But Jacobs led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,653 the previous season. That led many to believe he would bounce back in the right situation — and with better blocking in front of him.

Could Green Bay provide him with that? The Packers have a strong offensive line, so Jacobs looked like a rock-solid addition and a terrific complement to Jones.

However, the Packers decided to cut Jones rather than create a dynamic, one-two punch at running back, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Jones’ release came after the two parties failed to negotiate a restructured contract.

That will make Jacobs the true lead back in Green Bay with little behind him. Here’s a look at how Green Bay’s running back depth chart will look with Jacobs in and both Jones and Dillon out (for now).

NFL FREE AGENCY 2024: Live gradesTop 75 rankings | Landing spot predictions

Packers RB depth chart

1. Josh Jacobs

The Packers likely envision Jacobs as their lead back of the future. The 26-year-old is a physical, well-rounded back who looked like a great complement for Jones but can handle a three-down workload with Jones gone.

Jacobs averaged just 3.5 yards per carry last season, but he averaged a career-high 4.9 yards per carry the season before. In that campaign, Jacobs showed good explosiveness and vision behind a solid but unspectacular offensive line.

Jacobs took a step back in 2023 thanks to a myriad of factors. Injuries impacted him along with a declining offensive line and the team’s inability to find a quality starting quarterback to replace Derek Carr.

Still, Jacobs runs with great power at 5-10, 223 pounds. And maybe if he stays healthy, he will show a little more burst than last year. Either way, his power and ability to play all three downs makes him a solid successor to Jones as the now former Packer prepares for his age-30 season.

2. Emanuel Wilson

Wilson was one of the stars of the preseason in 2023, and that helped the undrafted rookie land a spot on Green Bay’s 53-man roster. Unfortunately, he missed most of the season with a leg injury and only logged 14 carries for 85 yards in total.

Wilson’s 6.1 yards per carry average should intrigue Packers fans and talent evaluators alike, and that will be enough to make him the team’s backup running back for the time being. The Packers may add more running back talent in free agency or the draft though, so the 5-11, 226-pound Wilson may ultimately serve as the team’s third-string running back. If he does, he’ll play a key role as a return man on special teams.

BEST FREE AGENTS AVAILABLE:
QBs | RBs | WRs | Defense | Overall

3. Patrick Taylor

Taylor (6-2, 217 pounds) played in 11 games for the Packers last season and generated a career-best 141 yards on 32 carries. He also caught 11 passes for 49 yards, showing he has the skills needed to be a solid fill-in running back. That may be enough to earn him a fourth-string running back job but at the very least, he should land on the team’s practice squad given his familiarity with the offense.

4. Ellis Merriweather

Merriweather (6-2, 225 pounds) is a big-bodied back who spent time on the team’s practice squad in 2023. The UMass product has excellent power and could emerge as a short-yardage hammer as he develops. He’s solid competition for Taylor on the back end of the roster, but realistically, Wilson seems most likely to challenge Jacobs for carries among the team’s current running backs.

Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Packers invest in another young running back in the 2024 NFL Draft to pair with Jacobs.

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *