The New England Patriots reportedly passed on Julio Jones because of his contract, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, but one insider wondered aloud if Bill Belichick might be willing to pony up for another elite WR in Cleveland Browns star Odell Beckham Jr.
I believe the Patriots had some initial interest in Julio Jones very early in the process, but the price point was going to have to change, either with trade compensation or the Falcons eating money. It didn’t, and they moved on.
In a response to Howe’s tweet, Chris Gasper of Gasper & Murray on 98.5 The Sports Hub tweeted:
Good stuff from Jeff with solid details of the Patriots pursuit. My sense was that the Patriots were interested, but at their price and on their terms, in terms of compensation and Jones’ contract. I think this basically confirms that. I wonder if BB would stretch more for OBJ?
The Patriots were mentioned as favorites to land Jones, which should have immediately told everyone he wouldn’t be coming to Foxboro. Belichick has never splurged for a receiver with a salary in Jones’ range ($15 million in 2021), and it just seemed a little too perfect to come to fruition.
Jones is 32 years old, so perhaps his age was also a deterrent for the Patriots. The question around Beckham Jr. is: is he even available?
There were trade rumors last year, but the Browns general manager Andrew Berry seemed to shut down any thought the team would be looking to part ways with Beckahm.
“Honestly, our focus with Odell — Odell is one of the best receivers in the NFL,” general Berry told reporters at the end of the season, per Mark Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “He played really good football for us before he was injured. He’s done a fantastic job with his teammates at practice, he’s embraced the organization, he’s under contract for multiple years. So our focus with Odell is making sure he recovers from the ACL tear. We want him to be healthy and ready to go next year. But we’re pleased with him.”
As we know, things can change.
Odell Beckham Jr’s Situation is Different Than Julio Jones’
We don’t know for sure if OBJ is available, but his contract situation might be more appealing to the Patriots. While he is still under contract through the 2023 season, the last of the dead money on his deal is in 2021.
So while he might command a return of draft assets similar to what Jones brought the Atlanta Falcons (a second and fourth-round pick), the financial commitment could be lesser, and Beckham is almost four years younger.
Beckham is coming off two consecutive injury-riddled seasons, but if New England believes he can be healthy in 2021, there is no questioning the impact he could have on the Patriots’ offense.
Adding OBJ Would Have a Huge Impact on Patriots’ Offense
The Patriots don’t have a single player in the passing game that should require a double team. That’s precisely why Jones seemed to be such a natural fit.
While Beckham doesn’t have the size Jones possesses, he is a similar threat in that defenses cannot allow defensive backs to defend him one-on-one. The presence of that kind of a receiver augments the effectiveness of an offense.
Do the Patriots have another blockbuster move in them? Probably not, but we’ll be watching just in case.
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