How involved were Patriots in Julio Jones sweepstakes? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Tennessee Titans landed Julio Jones from the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, and all it cost them was a 2022 second-round draft pick and a 2023 fourth-rounder. They even received the Falcons’ 2023 sixth-round pick in the deal.
The New England Patriots need help at wide receiver and sent a second-rounder to Atlanta two years ago for Mohamed Sanu, who’s no Julio Jones.
So, how close were they to acquiring Jones, and why didn’t a trade materialize?
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The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reports the Patriots’ hesitancy on the Jones front came down to the terms of the deal.
Jones is set to earn $15.3 million in base salary this season, which would have made him New England’s highest-paid player. While the Patriots had the cap space (roughly $16 million) to take on his contract, they would have been left with little flexibility had the Falcons not paid part of his salary in a potential deal.
WCVB’s Christopher Gasper suggested Bill Belichick and Co. had interest in acquiring Jones, but not with his current contract, which the Titans will assume in full.
Jones also has cap hits of $11.5 million in 2022 and 2023. The seven-time Pro Bowler has earned his pay as one of the NFL’s best wide receivers over the past decade, but he missed seven games due to a hamstring injury in 2020 and turned 32 in February.
So, perhaps the Patriots didn’t see the value in spending big on another pass-catcher after signing tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry and wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne this offseason. That may explain why the team signed journeyman receiver Marvin Hall on Friday instead of going after Jones.