At one point, the New England Patriots were listed as the oddsmakers’ favorite to land Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones via trade. However, it now seems as if they were not all that interested in acquiring the perennial All-Pro to begin with.
NBC Sports’ Peter King and Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer shared that perspective in their respective Monday morning columns. King noted that the money involved in the transaction was the deciding factor from the Patriots’ perspective:
New England never had serious interest in committing $38 million to a 32-year-old receiver.
Breer relayed the same report a few hours later:
The Patriots never showed real interest to Atlanta in Jones ...
If acquired via trade, Jones would have hit the Patriots’ books with a salary cap number of $15.3 million — a sizable number bigger that that of all but one current Patriot (cornerback Stephon Gilmore costs $16.3 million in 2021). His contract would therefore have cut significantly into New England’s current cap space of $15.1 million even with the Patrick Chung deal officially coming off the books at one point in the coming days or weeks.
Apparently, Bill Belichick and company were not willing to spend that kind of money on a wide receiver on the wrong side of 30. Sure, Jones still has elite potential but it seems as if the value was not where it needed to be for the club to enter the sweepstakes and go after the now-former Falcons star.
As a result, the Patriots are heading towards training camp with a wide receiver group consisting of offseason additions Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Tre Nixon and Marvin Hall as well as returning veterans Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski, Isaiah Zuber, Kristian Wilkerson and Devin Smith. Hall, another ex-Falcon, was signed to a one-year contract last week.
Jones, meanwhile, was sent to the Tennessee Titans for a second-round draft selection in 2022 as well as a Day 3 pick swap the following year. The Patriots will therefore have the seven-time Pro Bowler on their schedule this fall: they are slated to host the Titans at Gillette Stadium in late November.