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Oct 18, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium.

First, there was whispers. Then, rumblings. On Thursday and Friday, the rumors about the Patriots traded for Julio Jones roared. Multiple, unrelated sources have all named New England as a potential landing spot for the All-Pro wide receiver if the Falcons elect to trade him.

It started with former Bill Belichick assistant Mike Lombardi. On the GM Shuffle Podcast, Lombardi stated “I see them being in this, I really do,” in regards to the Patriots’ pursuit of the 32-year-old wide receiver. Lombardi’s son Mick is currently the Patriots’ wide receivers coach.

There was also a report from Jeff Schultz, who covers the Falcons for The Athletic. “The Falcons would like to trade Julio Jones,” Schultz writes, citing salary cap concerns. Over The Cap currently has the Falcons $6.7 million over the salary cap. On top of that, the team still has yet to officially sign 10 of their 12 draft picks (per Spotrac), including fourth-overall pick Kyle Pitts.

Later on, Schultz lists the Patriots as a team who would “fall into these categories” of teams who may be interested in trading for Jones. He also includes the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, and Los Angeles Chargers. In addition, Schultz says the Tennessee Titans “may show interest, but they also are close to the cap ceiling.”

Schultz also appeared on NBC Sports Boston, where he said “it would make a lot of sense” for the Patriots to be interested in Jones. Reacting to Schultz’ appearance, host Michael Holley filled in some more gaps about the Jones saga.

According to Holley, Jones’ relationship with the Falcons organization has deteriorated. That, combined with the salary cap issues, are the primary reasons he is on the trade block.

It’s the second bit of information Holley delivered that Patriots’ fans may find more interesting. “Do you know who he really wants to play with? He wants to play with Cam Newton,” Holley relayed. “He thinks Matt Ryan has lost a little zing on the deep ball.”

Of course, there’s a lot of moving pieces here. While the 36-year-old Ryan isn’t quite his MVP self at this point, neither is the 32-year-old Newton. There’s also no way to guarantee Jones he would play with Newton in New England, after the team drafted Mac Jones with the 15th pick in last month’s NFL Draft. It seems likely the receiver Jones would be at least somewhat familiar with the QB Jones, given both are Alabama products.

Whatever the case, Jones is still one of the most talented pass catchers in the league, and would instantly upgrade the Patriots’ offense. While a hamstring injury limited him to just six games last year, in his last full season in 2019 he caught 99 passes for 1,394 yards and six touchdowns.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.