ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler stated on SportsCenter that the Falcons may end up keeping Jones, but at present, they are listening to what teams like the New England Patriots may be willing to offer.
“I’ve talked to a few teams who are at least wondering if the New England Patriots get involved here, because they’ve had an aggressive offseason in free agency with all of those signings they made,” Fowler said. “They have $16.2 million in cap space to take on a bloated salary like Julio’s. And Jones and quarterback Cam Newton go way back from those Auburn [University]-[University of] Alabama rivalry Iron Bowl days, and those days in the NFC South together. They’re both around the same age, so at the very least, they are friendly.
“Now, I checked in on this. There’s nothing going on right now. You know, the Patriots typically talk internally about a lot of potential options that are out there. So, I’m sure they’ve had a discussion; nothing moving there right now. But a source in Atlanta told me, ‘Look, we are still in the listening phase right now. We are not initiating talks, and there’s still a chance Jones is in a Falcons uniform next year.’ But the Patriots are probably one of several teams to watch here.”
Rumors about the Patriots’ interest surfaced in recent days and are part of their continued effort to bounce back after a disappointing 7-9 season in 2020.
For the Falcons, the combination of a new general manager and head coach, Jones’ age (32) and the aforementioned salary cap concerns are the key reasons why the veteran may be dealt.
Over the course of Jones’ 10 seasons in the NFL, all with the Falcons, he’s caught 848 passes and collected 60 touchdown receptions. While dealing away that body of work would be disappointing, the reality is that the Falcons are in the midst of rebuilding after a miserable 4-12 season last year.