How the Patriots adding Julio Jones would benefit Mac Jones

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Perry: How Pats adding Julio Jones would benefit Mac Jones originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

We've covered a lot of ground as it relates to Julio Jones, the Patriots and any possible marriage between the two. We plumed the fitWe analyzed the potential impact on Cam Newton. We've got NBC family reporting that Jones would like to play with Newton and the Patriots if he's not set on going to Tennessee.

But of course there's more we need to get to.

There's one piece to the Patriots potentially acquiring Julio Jones' contract that we haven't hit just yet: How it'll help Mac Jones.

If the Patriots do somehow deal for Julio Jones, he'd help in their pursuit of what have to be two of the franchise's top priorities at this point in its arc.

No. 1: He'd help them win games in 2021. 

No. 2: He'd help Mac Jones' development. 

If traded, Julio Jones' deal will count $15.3 million. Pricey. In terms of cash earned, he'll pull in the ninth-most among NFL receivers in 2021. But one of the benefits to dealing for Jones is the term on his deal. He's under contract for three more seasons. Even now into his early 30s, having one of the most efficient receivers in football of 2020 under contract through 2023 is a sizable benefit to anything he'd bring the team in the here and now.

Those three years under contract would mean that even if Mac Jones isn't starting in 2021, once he eventually takes over for the Patriots, he'll have a sure-handed, big-bodied, uber-talented receiver to help ease his transition to the pro game.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Julio Jones watch and what to expect at Patriots OTAs | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The tight ends currently in the fold in New England will be nice for Mac Jones, no doubt; he was so accurate in the short-to-intermediate areas as a collegian that it's not hard to envision Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry complementing Jones' skill set. 

But at Alabama, Jones also leaned heavily on a series of RPO calls that relied on receiver talent out wide who could make the most of quick-hitting catch-and-run plays. Jones also happened to be one of the most productive deep-ball throwers in the country as well.

The Patriots aren't loaded with separators. And that's not exactly Julio Jones' game at this stage of his career, either. But for Mac Jones, having Julio Jones out wide to run those types of routes that he's accustomed to throwing would do a world of good for the confidence of a young passer looking to build his NFL resume.

If the Patriots aren't able to swing a deal for Julio Jones, the path to a go-to wideout for Mac Jones in Years 2 and 3 is a little muddier. The Patriots are in the middle of the pack of NFL teams when it comes to expected cap space next offseason. And at the moment, it's looking like it could be a lackluster class of free-agent receivers next year. There will be some sure-to-be-expensive stars at the top -- Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin -- followed by names like Will Fuller, Mike Williams and Courtland Sutton.

If the Patriots are thinking they might have to add high-end, NFL-ready talent next offseason at receiver, it could be hard to come by as the league-wide demand may outweigh the supply.

Patriots keep rookie tradition alive with Mac Jones at OTAs

Meanwhile, Julio Jones' salaries in 2022 and 2023 are very reasonable for a player who still has the ability to be a top-tier passing-game target: $11.5 million per year. 

Understanding Jones is closer to the end than the beginning at this point in his career, understanding he's dealt with injury, that's still good value. Nelson Agholor will make $11 million the next two seasons. 

Julio Jones' acquisition would be a signal that the Patriots are all-in on making sure Mac Jones is given every advantage possible to succeed early in his career. And in a league dominated by good quarterback play, where having a good quarterback on a rookie contract is a team-building cheat code, that has to be a priority.