Julio Jones Suggested as Alternative WR Option for Multiple AFC Contenders

Julio Jones

Getty Julio Jones could land with an AFC playoff-caliber team in 2023.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Julio Jones could find an eager suitor in the New England Patriots after DeAndre Hopkins chose the Tennessee Titans. Jones, who also previously played for the Titans and Atlanta Falcons, remains unsigned this offseason after an injury-riddled 2022 campaign.

Bleacher Report’s Doric Sam suggested Jones as a target for the Patriots among other previous Hopkins suitors — the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.

“While the 34-year-old is not the bonafide No. 1 option he once was, he can still be productive in the right situation,” Sam wrote.

“Jones appeared in 10 games for the Bucs and recorded 24 catches for 299 yards and two touchdowns while playing behind the vaunted receiver duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin last year,” Sam added. “The seven-time Pro Bowler would be a reliable possession receiver and red-zone threat thanks to his 6’4″ frame.”

Jones averaged 14.2 yards per reception over the past three seasons, close to his career average of 15.1 yards per catch. While his decline has been noticeable, he posted 99 catches for 1,394 yards and six touchdowns the last time he played 15 or more games in 2019.

Tampa Bay only spent $6 million on Jones in 2022, and teams such as the Patriots could easily sign him for less. The Bucs didn’t re-sign Jones this offseason amid a youth movement at receiver.

Chris Godwin Feeling Healthy Going into 2023 Season

Godwin can help alleviate Jones’ departure with a stronger season in 2023 — year two since an ACL tear derailed Godwin’s 2021 season.

“It’s tough with rehab, because you’re so focused on trying to rehab your specific ailment, as opposed to working on your overall game,” Godwin told reporters in June. “Now I can work on developing myself as a player. I can see where I need to improve at practice and go spend some time working on it, as opposed to figuring out how I’m going to get my knee to not be swollen or how to build the strength back up in my leg. I’m really grateful for that.”

Godwin had a career-high 104 receptions for 1,023 yards and three touchdowns last season. He could seek to eclipse his previous career highs of 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns from the 2019 campaign.

Bucs Happy With Rookie WR Trey Palmer

The Bucs drafted wide receiver Trey Palmer in the sixth round of the NFL Draft last spring with an eye to the future. Bucs wide receivers coach Brad Idzik said he’s seen great results with the former Nebraska and LSU receiver.

“Trey, his personality, he lights up the room,” Idzik said during the Pewter Report podcast . “He is amazing. He’s aggressive and he cares a lot, it means a lot to him. He lacks zero confidence. If you go into LSU and you’re lacking a little confidence, you’re going to get trampled on. I’m sure they helped grizzle him that way.”

“Trey’s been a phenomenal guy to work with, a guy who if you challenge him, he will rise up. You can coach him hard and that part’s fun because a lot of times people [say], ‘Oh, he has a track mentality, I don’t know how tough-minded he is.’ But that is not what our scouts said about him,” Idzik added. “That’s not what I felt when I interviewed him in Indy, and it’s not what he’s shown this offseason at all. He’s different cut from all those other speedy guys that come out.”