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NFL Draft

Julio Jones Rumors Emphasize Patriots’ Desperate Measures

  • The Draft Network
  • May 31, 2021
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The rich get richer, right? 

Well, let me start by saying “not so fast”  in my best Lee Corso impression. After two decades worth of dominance highlighted by six (!) Lombardi trophies and 11 consecutive division titles leading up to last season’s third-place finish in the AFC East, the New England Patriots have found themselves as the fly on the wedding cake as they look to marry their offseason of spending with continued success on the gridiron. 

The potential acquisition of Julio Jones would be more of the same from Patriots brass this spring, as seemingly every elite talent available has garnered some sliver of interest from New England—but it also has offered a trip down the uncharted path for do-it-all team executive and head coach Bill Belichick, who looks desperate to recapture what once was in Foxboro.

As bad as 2020 was in New England, the Patriots still maneuvered their way to seven wins within an ever-competitive conference and a division now headlined with star-studded young talents under center… but Belichick has been there before. 

With top-10 draft selections and prized free-agent acquisitions, the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets have made all the steps over the years to “keep up with the Joneses,” but, as common as taxes, the Patriots have been an above .500 team whose season often concludes on a stage in February. 

But, 2020 was different, and 2021 has lined up to be drastically unique as New England enters one of the most crucial campaigns in Belichick’s tenure. His way, the “Patriot Way,” is no longer, and Belichick’s lay of the land—if he were to acquire Jones—would alter the landscape even further if one of the premier pass-catching talents of the last 20 seasons were to join forces with the stoic Patriots bench boss to wrangle another division crown.

Jones and his game speak for themselves. The two-time All-Pro selection has been a dominant force since the moment he entered the NFL out of Alabama just a decade ago. A rare blend of length, power, and speed to complement his glue-like hands and feathery route-running ability has entered Jones into the conversation of top all-around wideouts to ever play the game. 

Now 32, age isn’t the issue, rather his ongoing disagreements with Atlanta Falcons brass has led us to the present day, where Jones, the NFL’s all-time leader in receiving yards per game (95.5) and the Falcons’ franchise leader in receptions and total receiving yards, has reportedly cut ties with the organization, requesting a trade as early as mid-March. 

Gone are the days of settling for fringe relationships and lack of attention to building a contender, Jones is too valuable of an asset to ignore his wishes and it’s been made clear his opinion wasn’t valued by former team executives. 

On the contrary, it’s a similar case of how things have gone for New England over the years: perfect, for a lack of better words. 

2020 was an outlier to what has been one of the most successful dynasties in all of professional sports since the turn of the century. And sure, would the loss of a general halt an army, of course, but the commander in chief is still in place. This attracts the Jonnu Smiths, the Hunter Henrys, and Matt Judons of the free-agent class, all who’ve joined forces under Belichick’s reign to build a franchise back up to (in retrospect) compete against its beloved, departed former leader in Tom Brady. 

This is what Belichick has welcomed, it’s an arms race to the top where Brady and Belichick could inevitably meet if all were to go extremely well in the coming seasons. It’s by no means the typical way of business, but if New England were to close a deal and acquire Jones as a new dawn of football soon arrives on the turf of Gillette Stadium, Belichick’s last gasp at reaching NFL royalty could be the Patriots’ stepping stone to glory or slide to an inherent downfall for a once superior franchise.

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