The Patriots have spent the offseason loading up. Whether it was their massive spending in free agency or their draft, there has been an infusion of talent in New England at nearly every position. That includes wide receiver; the Patriots signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne and drafted Tre Nixon in the seventh round. The Patriots’ receiver group is better than it was a year ago, but one more addition could elevate it and the offense to new heights: Julio Jones.
Jones has spent his entire career with the Falcons and has firmly established himself as one of the top five receivers in the league. Since entering the NFL in 2011, Jones has amassed 848 catches for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns. In 2020, he missed seven games, but prior to that he had played at least 14 games in six straight seasons.
At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Jones is elite at the catch point, often outmuscling or out-jumping defenders to secure catches. Patriots fans got a perfect example of that in Super Bowl 51 when Jones made the catch of the game over Eric Rowe that should have set up a field goal to seal the win for Atlanta. You know what happened next.
Adding Jones would be akin to adding Randy Moss in 2007. The only drawback is that at 32, Jones is a couple years older than Moss was then. However, Jones should still have 1-2 elite seasons left and if New England gets that, adding him would be more than worth it. The cost would likely be something in the range of a 3rd or 4th round draft pick plus the taking on of Jones’ three remaining contract years. But this is the NFL and contracts can be restructured easily, not to mention that the Patriots have plenty of cap room (over $15 million) now and in the future.
For Atlanta, the chief benefit of moving on from Jones would be the cap relief. Adding another draft pick would also be helpful for a team that is trying to rebuild on the fly. In addition, the Falcons just drafted Kyle Pitts and already have Calvin Ridley, which could prove to be an elite tandem for the next several years. This doesn’t necessarily make a player of Jones’ caliber outright expendable, but it does make it easier to trade him.
Bill Belichick spent this offseason loading up to make sure the 7-9 finish in 2020 was a blip and not the start of a trend. Adding Jones would further solidify the Patriots as AFC contenders and give them the best deep threat they have had in over a decade.