The Julio Jones trade rumors are heating up, and the New England Patriots, who lack a true No. 1 wide receiver, might be a more serious contender for the Atlanta Falcons star than people think.
Former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi discussed how New England might view a trade for Jones on "The GM Shuffle" podcast and said he believes the club "will be in" the mix for the veteran receiver.
"Now, the Julio Jones rumors, I don't doubt that," he said. "I don't doubt that. Again, I think what the Patriots would have to look at with Julio is can they actually keep Julio on the team for two years? Because there's nothing they do in New England that is not about sustainable values. So they are always asking the question if we bring this guy in, can we keep him for more than two years? They have made a lot of mistakes in this area. Mohamed Sanu two years ago. They brought him in and they gave up a [second]-round pick for him and he lasted barely a year. I am not saying it's perfect because nothing is ever perfect.
"But the reality here is I truly believe they would have to take a look at their cap. They know they are going to be tight on their cap next year based on what they did this year, but adding a player like this guy could certainly help them. That would certainly give their offense that one guy they need that would make everyone else better and then they could go off to the races. It would make [Nelson] Agholor better. It would make [Kendrick] Bourne better. I see them being in this. I really do."
Jones played just nine games last season due to injury. He caught 51 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns. Before the 2020 campaign, he recorded six consecutive 1,000-plus yard seasons, earning Pro Bowl selections in each of those years.
The 32-year-old would instantly become New England's top receiver alongside Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers. He is set to make $15.3 million in 2021 and $11.513 million in 2022 and 2023.
ESPN lists the Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts and Las Vegas Raiders as potential landing spots for Jones.