NFL Scouts Offer First Reaction to Buccaneers Signing Julio Jones

Julio Jones

Getty Former Falcons WR Julio Jones.

The rich get richer.

That’s the feeling inside the NFL, after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers swooped in and signed former All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones on Tuesday, July 26, dropping him into one of the most prolific collections of skill players, around the greatest quarterback to play the game.

“For Julio, it all comes down to health,” an NFC scout told Heavy. “If he can stay healthy, and stay on the field, he’s going to have a major impact.”

Jones missed six games due to a hamstring injury in 2021 with the Tennessee Titans and has battled through nagging injuries for much of his career. However, he has surpassed 1,300 receiving yards six times in his 11-year career and now has the opportunity to catch passes from Tom Brady this upcoming season.

Heavy spoke to scouts, coaches, and front office executives to get a sense of how much Jones has left in the tank, and exactly what kind of impact he has the potential to have on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ offense in 2022.

Brady has an embarrassment of riches around him in the Buccaneers’ offense, led by wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Now, enter Jones, who has the frame and ability to not only be a matchup nightmare but also create opportunities for Tampa’s other weapons.

“This move makes them way more dangerous,” the scout added.

Jones’ Chance to Bounce Back

Jones has not played a full season since 2018, but a return to the NFC South and some familiar foes, after spending one season in Tennessee, just may be exactly what the doctor orders to get his career back on track.

In his lone season with the Tennessee Titans, Jones hauled in a career-low 31 passes for 434 yards with just one touchdown, before he was released back in March.

After he checks into Buccaneers’ training camp, Jones is going to have the opportunity to immediately work on chemistry with Brady, as Godwin continues his road to recovery from a torn ACL suffered against the New Orleans Saints last October.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Godwin has been cleared to participate, after undergoing surgery on Jan. 3.

Until Godwin is able to take on a full workload, and participate in full-team drills, it is likely the seven-time Pro Bowler will see extensive run with Brady.

How Jones Will Fit in the Buccaneers’ Offense

The Buccaneers are one of the tougher offenses in the league to defend, because they are so versatile, and because Brady is so good at pre-snap recognition.

It won’t be getting any easier on opposing defenses, following Jones’ arrival.

“When healthy, he’s an absolute physical force,” an AFC personnel executive told Heavy.

If there is one area where Jones has the ability to elevate the Buccaneers’ offense, it is in the red zone, where he has caught the vast majority of his career touchdowns. Of Jones’ 81 career touchdowns, 20 have been caught inside the 20-yard line.

“The one thing that he’s never mastered is the Red Zone fade, back shoulder, body-position type catches,” the executive points out. “He’s always been more of a hit, post, dig and out kind of guy, which could be ideal for their scheme.”

Tampa begins this season with a roster that is arguably the most complete and toughest to beat in the NFC. So long as the Buccaneers aren’t expecting the All-Pro version of Jones to walk into the building, this signing could make them even tougher to beat.

“He may not be the same player he once was,” the executive cautions. “But, playing with Tom [Brady] should motivate him, and there may be a month or two’s worth of real greatness left in the tank.”

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