The news, rumors, and speculation linking Julio Jones to the New England Patriots received a new layer. Per Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, “the Atlanta Falcons would like to trade Jones.”
This is significant because it is the first legitimate report out of Atlanta that indicates the team would like to move the future Hall-of-Famer.
In an interview with NBC Sports, Schultz added that the move “would make a lot of sense” for the Patriots.
That’s an understatement, especially considering Jones would fit under the Patriots’ salary cap, and they could make a small move or two to create even more operating room for the 2021 season.
Finally, and perhaps most telling, former general manager and current analyst Mike Lombardi says he believes the Patriots “will be in on” Julio Jones during the GM Shuffle podcast.
Imagining a Patriots Offense With Julio Jones
The Patriots have added two top-flight tight ends in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. They also signed wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Meanwhile, New England built a fierce offensive line that includes Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn at tackle, David Andrews at center with Mike Onwenu, and Shaq Mason at guard. Some believe this group is among the elite in the NFL.
Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus calls them a “top-3” O-line.
— PFF (@PFF) May 19, 2021
NBC Sports’ Phil A. Perry illustrated what Jones could mean to the Patriots’ offense after acknowledging the weapons the team has already added in free agency and the draft.
Now consider what a Jones addition would mean for the group. That would change the equation, not to mention the geometry of the defensive looks Josh McDaniels will be tasked with beating. Suddenly, instead of feeling comfortable with one safety deep to keep an eye on Agholor, defenses may feel as though they need two. That would remove one body from being committed to the running game, which would make it easier for Damien Harris and his blockers to be the bullies Belichick seems to want offensively. No matter who is playing quarterback — Jones could be a security blanket for rookie Mac Jones or a contested-catch monster for Cam Newton — the former Alabama wideout would make his new offense a multi-dimensional passing attack. He’d make the Patriots more equipped to force defenses to guard “every blade of grass,” a stated goal of theirs in the past. The cost of acquiring Jones would be significant. But the value he’d bring in allowing the Patriots to adapt week to week — quarter to quarter, even — would be immeasurable.
How good can New England be with Jones?
The Patriots Would Be a Legit Super Bowl Contender
Health is always a significant concern, but assuming none of the essential pieces of the offense (Newton, Jones, Smith and or Henry, Brown, or Wynn) go down. New England would have one of the most balanced offenses in the NFL.
Few teams would have the maulers upfront, the ability to succeed in 12 personnel, and the versatility to pop for chunk plays while also grinding out defenses with the rushing attack.
That’s not to mention the scrambling abilities of Newton. For this reason, the Patriots need “to be in on” Jones.