Love to see it. Simply LOVE to see it. Returning players and new. Veterans and rookies. Mortal lock roster spot guys and roster bubble guys. Patriots all. Dissatisfied with an unacceptable sub-.500 season. Demonstrating that they are prepared to do whatever it takes to make the franchise a perennial contender once again. And that means on the practice field and off.
What they need to do on the turf behind Gillette Stadium is self-evident. What they could really do off the field is get the best veteran on the trade market. And they are putting in that work as well.
Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers might be putting in nice efforts in trying to force trades. But the undisputed most desirable Big Man on the NFL Campus right now is Julio Jones. And quite a few Pats players are doing what they can to recruit him to come sit at their cafeteria table. To remind him that theirs was the Cool Kids table for decades. And could be Cool again.
Keeping score that's Trent Brown:
And we can also add Matt Judon:
And one key player who hasn't spoken up on the socials, but probably hasn't had to:
Source - NBC Sports Boston’s Michael Holley … said on “Boston Sports Tonight” that he’s been getting some intel from “some little birdies.” Holley has learned that Jones is very unhappy with the Falcons right now, and that the All-Pro receiver has a certain quarterback in mind that he wants to play with.
"This is gonna surprise you, and it’s gonna disappoint you. It’s bittersweet. Because I love Julio Jones, always have. You’re not gonna believe this. …
"He wants to play with Cam Newton."
It is, in fact, bittersweet for the vast majority of us in New England who don't have goldfish memory, recall what it was like to go weeks without seeing a touchdown pass and saw Newton get benched three times in 15 starts (for a benching rate of .200). And the unpardonable sin of watching a once proud offense running out the clock at the ends of halfs when they were trailing. But if Newton's presence makes one of the best wideouts of his generation want to come to Foxboro, even someone like me who wants the Mac Jones Dynasty to begin five minutes ago will make that deal. At least for the time being. And let me add that I spent two years sharing a radio studio with Michael Holley. And when he says he's got sources, trust him. The man has sources.
And while we're talking about reliable sources, just to echo something I said yesterday, the one go-to guy on all matters of how much money the Pats have to spend and who they can afford to sign confirms that, with just a little maneuvering by the accountants, they can find space for Jones. With room to spare:
Like I also said yesterday, the Patriots also have something to offer the Falcons that few teams do. In addition to the same allotment of draft picks to bargain with everyone has, they've got talented, young, promising, cheap and (to them) disposable assets like Sony Michel, N'Keal Harry (I know, but the potential is still there), and J.C. Jackson (that would hurt) to sweeten the deal. I'll even add Jakobi Meyers, who is still getting paid like a UDFA, but was the Patriots leading receiver last year.
In procedural crime dramas, they always talk about motive, opportunity and means. In the case of a deal between these teams for this player, you've got them all. From everyone involved. It just make too much sense for it not to happen.
More than anything - and while I do try to please others, I'm ultimately all about my own happiness - Jones would instantly put the Patriots in the Super Bowl conversation. A threat all over the field that would not only draw coverage away from the tight ends, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, but force defenses to play nickel against an offense that is built to run the ball. And while I'm by no means the most objective voice on the subject, I'm not the only one who feels this way:
Assuming Julio Jones has some say in where he ends up, I defy him to resist the urge to put his tray table down at the Patriots table. That's a lot of rings in that group asking him to come join them. A quarterback he reportedly likes and wants to play with after years of being in the same division as him. A team that is vastly improved but still lacking the skills he can bring. A coaching staff with the genius to remake their attack and get the most out of him. And a franchise that can give him and his former team what they want.
The only question that remains is, how hasn't this trade happened yet? The answer is, because it has to wait until June 1, for contractual reasons. My guess is it won't take any longer than that. Make it so.