Julio Jones is headed to the Tennessee Titans, and it means opposing AFC defenses should be very concerned.
The Atlanta Falcons traded the two-time All-Pro wideout to the Titans on Sunday for a package including a second-round pick. The 32-year-old star wideout now joins an offense with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a pair of extremely talented skill players in running back Derrick Henry and fellow big-bodied receiver A.J. Brown.
The Titans already played a physical style of football under head coach Mike Vrabel, and the addition of Jones adds to that. That’s not good news for any team in the AFC — like the New England Patriots — but especially not for division rivals like the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Opposing defenses now will have to decide what they’re willing to give up against the Titans offense. And whatever they choose likely won’t be good enough.
Henry, a 2020 All-Pro who led the league in rushing yards each of the last two seasons, will shred light defensive fronts. Brown, who’s recorded 1,000-yard campaigns in each of his first two years in the league with 70 catches during his sophomore season, will not have trouble against any team’s No. 2 cornerback. And Jones, who had 99 receptions for almost 1,400 yards in 2019 before a down year, can beat 1-on-1 matchups better than just about anyone.
It very well could make for one of the better offenses in the entire league. And from a pass-catching standpoint, the tandem of Brown and Jones certainly ranks up there with the best combinations in the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs, however, may have something to say about it.
The Patriots, on the other hand, reportedly were kicking the tires on Jones (they were at one point even a betting favorite to sign him) but it seems they decided they were not comfortable with Jones’ salary of $15.3 million in 2021. Reports have surfaced that Jones’ salary was what made the Patriots halt their pursuit.
So now the Patriots will watch him go play for a team that, at least in the two most recent seasons, was closer to competing for a championship than they were. Tennessee was 11-5 on the season last year, winning the AFC South and recording the organization’s best record in more than a decade. They did, however, suffer a season-ending loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC wild card. In 2019, the Titans knocked the Patriots out the playoffs before putting together a run to the conference championship. And while Tennessee’s defense has taken a step back, a decline that very well could prove fatal, their offense took a step forward.
The physicality and skillset of Jones should prove to be a major offseason addition. And it’s an acquisition those around the league — including the Patriots — will have their hands full with.