On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are already somewhat loaded on the offensive side of the football, made an interesting addition to their roster.
Seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones is signing a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per source. The soon-to-be 45-year Tom Brady now will have a chance to throw to the 33-year-old Jones.
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The 33-year-old has been one of the NFL’s most prolific wideouts over the past decade, and he is one of only a handful of active players who have tallied over 10,000 receiving yards.
However, he has been hampered by hamstring problems over the last two years, and as a result, his production has taken a nosedive.
How much of an impact will Jones make on the Bucs, especially if he’ll never be the Jones of old?
Jones Has Been A Speedster
Much like Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill, Jones has made a living by stretching the field vertically and making big yardage plays.
At the 2011 NFL Combine, he was clocked at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash – even though he had a broken bone in his foot.
Jones was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the sixth pick in 2011, and he quickly made an impact on a team that was already solid.
He made the Pro Bowl in just his second season by putting up 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he would receive the same nod six years in a row starting in 2014.
The University of Alabama product also has two All-Pro First-team selections to his name, and he has led the league in receiving yards twice and receiving yards per game three times.
His career average of 91.9 receiving yards a game is an NFL record and is evidence of his world-class speed.
Jones also has another attribute that will help the Bucs down the line – he has appeared in the Super Bowl, ironically against Brady’s New England Patriots.
In that game, he caught all four passes that targeted him and finished with 87 yards.
Tom Brady and Julio Jones are teaming up in Tampa Bay
Never forget when Julio had this amazing catch against Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl
— Bet The Pigskin (@betthepigskin) July 26, 2022
In all, Jones has appeared in the playoffs five times, so he won’t be intimidated by the moment come January.
How Much Should Bucs Fans Realistically Expect?
In 2021, with his hamstring bothering him, Jones played in 10 games but registered just 434 yards and one touchdown, and his average of 43.4 yards per game was a far cry from his heyday when he usually got above 100 yards per contest.
Early in the season, especially if Chris Godwin isn’t good to go following his knee injury last season, Jones may get plenty of touches, if for no other reason than necessity.
But once Tampa Bay is fully healthy, will Jones be an every-down receiver?
Hamstring injuries are tricky to predict and rehab, as there are plenty of examples of pro athletes injuring the muscle and never fully regaining their old form.
Now that Jones is getting closer to his mid-30s, it may be overly optimistic to expect him to be the Jones he was just a few years ago.
If he isn’t, he could conceivably end up playing a role similar to that of Antonio Brown in 2020 when the Bucs won it all.
Brown wasn’t an every-down receiver that year, but he still gave the team 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight contests, as well as a touchdown in the Super Bowl versus the Kansas City Chiefs.