Anyone who truly expected the New England Patriots to take the plunge on Julio Jones was lying to themselves.
Based on a pair of fresh reports Monday morning, those who pay attention to the Patriots and how they operate can say “I told you so.” Jones’ contract was simply a non-starter. Peter King put it succinctly in his Monday column for Pro Football Talk: the Patriots “never had serious interest in committing $38 million to a 32-year-old receiver.” Additionally, Albert Breer said in The MMQB that the Patriots “never showed real interest to Atlanta” in Jones, who ended up being traded to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
That the Patriots could have easily maneuvered Jones under the salary cap is moot. He is due $15.3 million in real-life cash in 2021, then $11.5 million each in 2022 and 2023 (per Spotrac). Bill Belichick has never been in the business of committing that much actual money to any wide receiver, barely any player, certainly not at ages 32-34.
Also – and this is more open to debate – Jones’ best days are likely in the past. He is five years removed from his last First Team All-Pro selection. Though he’s still a dynamic and productive wideout when he’s on the field, it’s fair to wonder how much longer he will be the same player. At that position, the cliff approaches quickly.
We can debate until the end of time whether the Patriots should have assumed that kind of risk with a Jones trade. As of Monday, June 7, 2021, who is the Patriots’ go-to No. 1 target, anyway? Jonnu Smith?
But the more important question is, would they make the trade? And the team’s history with roster-building and money management strongly suggested they weren’t going to do it. And the reports that they never made a serious push should be a surprise to no one.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.