How would Julio Jones impact the Patriots in 2021? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
All eyes are on Julio Jones with the superstar wide receiver confirming he wants out of Atlanta.
Jones has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason. And when Shannon Sharpe asked Jones about his future with the Falcons live on "Undisputed," he didn't hesitate to say he's "out of there."
So where will he end up?
The New England Patriots are rumored to be on Jones' shortlist of preferred destinations. It seems like a match made in heaven. The Patriots could still use another offensive weapon and Jones arguably still is a top-five wideout when healthy. The 32-year-old reportedly would love to play with Cam Newton as his QB, and no place in the NFL has more of a winning pedigree than Foxboro.
So if the Patriots do trade for Jones, what kind of impact would the seven-time Pro Bowler have? Our partners at Strat-O-Matic ran a full simulation with Jones on the roster next season to find out. Here are the results:
Julio Jones with Cam Newton at QB
Perhaps this is why Jones would like to team up with Newton?
With Cam under center, the simulation has Jones producing one of the best seasons of his 10-year NFL career. His 101 receptions would mark his second-highest total in the last six years and his fourth-highest overall.
His receiving yardage (1,496) and touchdown total (8) are nothing to scoff at either. Both numbers are right on par with what Jones has produced for most of his illustrious Falcons tenure.
But did those stats lead to wins?
With Jones catching passes from Newton, the Patriots went 10-7 in Strat-O-Matic's simulation to earn the No. 4 seed and the AFC East title. Newton completed 335 of his 501 passes (67 percent) for the season with 3,654 yards, 21 TDs and 12 INTs.
Jones (3 catches, 57 yards) helped the Patriots get past the Denver Broncos with a convincing 29-6 victory in the Wild Card round. New England's run would come to an end with a Divisional Round loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, 23-20. Jones caught four passes for 61 yards in the losing effort.
Julio Jones with Mac Jones at QB
Julio Jones' 2021 campaign with the Patriots didn't go as smoothly with the rookie at the helm.
With fellow Alabama product Mac Jones as his quarterback, Julio caught 91 passes for 1,243 yards and eight TDs. Not too far off from his numbers with Newton, but the QB switch negatively impacted the team as a whole.
The simulated Patriots went 8-9 with Mac Jones as the starter. The 15th overall pick in this year's draft completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,652 yards, 28 TDs and 20 INTs en route to a second-place finish in the AFC East.
New England failed to clinch a playoff berth.
Julio Jones' top performances with Cam Newton
Jones quickly found the end zone with Newton under center. In the Patriots' season opener vs. the Miami Dolphins, Jones caught seven passes for a pedestrian 30 yards but notched a touchdown in a 20-18 victory.
His biggest game came against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. In Strat-O-Matic's simulation of the Week 15 matchup, Jones went off for six catches, 144 yards and two touchdowns. That would be his only game of the season with more than one TD.
Other notable performances for Jones with Newton as his QB include a 13-catch, 182-yard outburst vs. the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 8 plus a nine-catch, 143-yard and one-touchdown showing in the regular-season finale at Miami.
Julio Jones' top performances with Mac Jones
Julio Jones' debut season in New England lost some of its luster with Mac Jones at QB. While the stud wideout still managed to string together some big games, he didn't quite dominate the way he did with Newton throwing him the ball.
With Mac Jones as the signal-caller, Julio's notable performances include his Patriots debut vs. Miami (6 catches, 125 yards), Week 3 vs. New Orleans (3 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD), and Week 5 at the Houston Texans (9 catches, 116 yards, 1 TD).