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NFL Draft

How Much Better Would Patriots Be With Julio Jones?

  • The Draft Network
  • May 25, 2021
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The Atlanta Falcons should absolutely not trade wide receiver Julio Jones. If you ask me, after the kind of offseason they’ve had, especially given a quarterback-less NFL draft cycle, dealing Jones would make some of the steps forward we believed they were taking look like missteps.

But I'm not here to give you another opinion piece on what I think should or shouldn’t be done on Jones. Instead, I’m here to address one of the top rumors surrounding Jones when it comes to potential trades, and that is Jones’ landing in New England.

According to betting odds, the team favored for Jones’ services in 2021 is still the Atlanta Falcons, but the Patriots aren’t far behind them in terms of best bets. Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer also reported that the Falcons were looking for a first-round pick for Jones before the draft but weren’t able to get any suitors due to “the climate in the NFL right now isn't conducive to getting value for an expensive 32-year-old receiver." Now Breer is saying that the Falcons could deal Jones for a lesser price, that of a second-round pick.

Other reporting noted internal discussions in New England; those discussions were seemingly more favorable. According to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, the Patriots think Jones “had been incredibly durable until this past season when he dealt with a troublesome hamstring.”

First of all, does this make sense for the Patriots? Sure, they need a No. 1 wide receiver, and they likely aren't going to be able to find one now after the draft anywhere close to what Jones might be able to give them in return. In that sense, it is worth it. But how much does that impact how good the Patriots are?

It is Bill Belichick manning the team, after all; giving him a top wide receiver with hopefully a much healthy team and good returning talent from COVID-19 opt-outs in 2020 means the Patriots will likely be in for another winning season. But does this make them true contenders in the AFC? I’m not so sure that’s the case. Heck, I’m not so sure it guarantees they’ll be even the second-best team in their own division behind the Buffalo Bills. The Miami Dolphins will certainly be on the hunt for a playoff spot too. And even if the Patriots make the playoff, will it just be a one-and-done ceiling? If that’s the case, is Jones' contract, and the price of a pick to get him, worth it?

Let’s say the Pats are okay with all of that: the trade price, the salary-cap price, Jones’ age (32), and injury history (after missing seven games last year). All of a sudden the Patriots will have added tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry and receivers Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jones in their offense over the course of the offseason. Jones would allow the Patriots to have a true X-receiver with speedy flanker options with Bourne and Agholor plus plenty of tight end/slot versatility with Smith and Henry. Their offense would become complete and well-rounded. But, again, the question remains: Does this make enough of a difference? 

The Patriots have to have better quarterback play in 2021. Cam Newton returned and is hopefully much healthier than he was last season. The Patriots also just spent the 15th-overall pick on quarterback Mac Jones. Regardless of the styles between the two, Julio would objectively help both quarterbacks. Jones’ current long-time quarterback, Matt Ryan, recently said, “I’ve said this before, I don’t think anybody has impacted my career as significantly as [Jones]. I’ve been very fortunate to ride along with him for 10 years.” We know that Julio can be a quarterback’s best friend.

The fit in New England isn’t really a question when it comes to Jones; he makes the team better, period. Though the AFC is tough, teams can’t win the lottery if they don’t buy a ticket, and the Patriots sure didn’t act like they were in a future rebuild phase this offseason. They looked like they were in a reload, and securing Jones would keep that consistent.

However, it’s still all on the quarterback situation. If the team has faith in the guys they have under center, New England really might be Jones’ next stop, which could mean more playoff appearances in the near future.

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