The speculation only has intensified in recent days, with NFL Media’s Mike Giardi reporting over the weekend that the Patriots have had internal discussions about Jones and the seven-time Pro Bowl selection subsequently confirming Monday on live TV that he wants out of Atlanta.
So, will any fire emerge from this smoke?
Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard on Wednesday’s episode of the “Greg Bedard Patriots Podcast” shared what he’s heard so far as it relates to New England’s possible pursuit of a trade for Jones.
“Well, the first thing is as far as a potential trade or where the Patriots are, what I’ve heard to this point is that they are still sort of kicking the tires on it,” Bedard said. “I don’t think they pursued it in any way really with the Falcons. They might have had a conversation or two. But really I don’t think it’s gone very far. I think they might have heard what the initial asking price was, which was maybe a first-round pick, maybe a second-round pick. I think that that’s too rich for the Patriots’ blood. Plus, they probably want something done about Julio’s money — like, the Falcons paying half of the first year or something like that.”
In other words, it’s unclear how much interest the Patriots have in Jones, one of the best wide receivers in NFL history. New England’s offense certainly could use a legitimate No. 1 option, even after signing wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne in addition to tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, but Jones is coming off a 2020 in which he was limited to nine games due to a hamstring injury. Plus, he’s 32 years old and entering his 11th NFL season.
The uncertainty over what Jones has left in the tank, coupled with the three years remaining on his Falcons contract, raises questions over whether the Patriots should pursue a trade, especially if they’d need to relinquish a first- or second-round pick to strike a deal.
“I think right now a bunch of teams, including the Patriots, are just sort of looking at this and kicking the tires and seeing what kind of deal can be there,” Bedard said. “So I don’t think anything is imminent, even though this is all people can talk about and ‘Oh, the Patriots are the betting odds favorites to land Julio Jones.’ Like, who gives a crap? Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, the odds. Well, Vegas knows something.’ Nah, they don’t know jack crap.”
” … I think right now, the Julio Jones stuff, it’s not really anywhere as far as the Patriots go,” he added. “The timetable is a factor. I think other teams are gonna get involved. I think it’s gonna be competitive. And when it gets competitive, the Patriots usually bow out. They don’t usually stick it in until the end, because look, if it’s a competitive situation, that means the cost is gonna go up and that’s not the Patriots’ M.O.”
The ball is in Bill Belichick’s court, though, and as of Thursday afternoon, there was little to suggest New England is on the cusp of acquiring Jones despite the abundance of outside chatter.