The Patriots reportedly have discussed trading for Julio Jones, who very well could become a salary-cap casualty in Atlanta as soon as next month.
But if ESPN’s Bill Barnwell had to guess, New England will proceed with caution when it comes to pursuing the superstar wide receiver.
Barnwell in a recent column cast predictions for 15 players who are either believed to be on the trading block or are currently on the open market. The NFL scribe predicted the seven-time Pro Bowl selection to land with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and in doing so, explained why he doesn’t view a Jones-to-New England trade as likely.
“I know Bill Belichick has bought low on veteran receivers before and come away with one of the best seasons in league history from Randy Moss,” Jones wrote. “When Belichick traded for Moss, though, he wasn’t taking on much risk. The Pats dealt a fourth-round pick for Moss, who was 30 at the time. Moss agreed to take a massive pay cut and played on a one-year, $3 million pact. I don’t think Jones is about to take a similar haircut, nor should he. Belichick just got burned sending a second-round pick to the Falcons for Mohamed Sanu Sr., who immediately suffered a high-ankle sprain and never recovered. I think he would tread very carefully here.”
Jones conceivably only would be open to a pay cut — even a minor one — for a team with legitimate Super Bowl LVI aspirations. And while the Patriots are poised to be improved from a season ago, they’re far from a playoff lock. New England might not even finish in the top two in its own division.
The star receiver’s days with the Falcons likely are numbered, but we probably shouldn’t count on his next chapter being in Foxboro.