Julio Jones trades rumors: Falcons wide receiver wants to play with Cam Newton, Patriots, report says
Yet another potential landing point – and favorite quarterback – emerged in the Julio Jones draw.
Michael Holley of NBC Sports Boston reported Thursday that Jones had expressed interest in playing with Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, whom he saw twice a year for nine seasons from 2011-19. Holley’s report came during an appearance on “Boston Sports Tonight.”
“You know who (Jones) really wants to play with?… He wants to play with Cam Newton. He loves Cam,” Holley said. “That’s the other thing: he thinks (Falcons quarterback) Matt Ryan lost some zest on his deep ball.”
Newton and Jones have seen each other a lot over the years, not only as rivals in the NFC South Division – they were No. 1 and 6 in the 2011 NFL Draft respectively – but also in college, where they clashed in the Iron Bowl. Of course, Newton doesn’t seem like a major upgrade over Ryan if you look at his 2020 season alone: he completed 242 of 368 (65.8%) passes for 2,657 yards and eight touchdowns for 10 interceptions, while rushing 137 times for 592 yards and 12 other scores.
Jones’ production also suffered in 2020 due to a lingering hamstring injury that saw him play just nine games – the least since suffering a late-season foot fracture in the Game 5 of the 2013 season. He accounted for 51 receptions, 771 yards and three touchdowns in 2020. That kind of production isn’t enough to justify his three-year, $ 66 million contract with the Falcons, who also expressed interest by swapping out the Grade 11 receiver to alleviate some of their salary cap issues.
That said, New England would have had internal discussions about negotiating for Jones, which would create a cap of $ 23 million in the 2021 season. The Patriots, who rank 10th in the league with $ 20.2 million in cap space, could certainly make room for the seven-time All-Pro wide receiver. New England coach Bill Belichick has been aggressive this offseason, finding more targets for Newton, including receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor and tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
Even with these additions, however, Jones would step in and immediately become the No.1 receiving target for Newton. He could also serve as a safety blanket for Mac Jones, New England’s first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, if Belichick wants to move on to the former Alabama quarterback. And the Falcons would absolutely prefer him to go to an AFC team rather than an NFC team.
The trade rumor is certainly interesting and a deal would make sense for both teams. Whether the Patriots and Falcons pull the trigger remains to be seen.