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Colts Still the Best Fit for Julio Jones?

According to one ESPN analyst, the Colts are still the best fit for free agent wide receiver Julio Jones.
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We're a few months removed from the thick of NFL free agency, but there are still some big fish out there in the free-agent pool.

As has become customary in recent years, the Indianapolis Colts are being tied to some of these big fish.

The front office has done a nice job of plugging up the holes on their roster throughout the offseason but the one that still has the biggest question mark next to it is wide receiver.

The Colts like the young players they have behind Michael Pittman Jr., but much of the rest of the NFL world is taking an "I'll believe it when I see it approach."

In part because of this, ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen thinks free agent wide receiver Julio Jones, who is one of the most accomplished skill position players of his generation and played for a decade with new Colts quarterback Matt Ryan on the Atlanta Falcons, best fits with the Colts (per Bleacher Report).

Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones are the best available options for squads in need of help at the wide receiver position. While OBJ may not sign anytime soon as he recovers from an ACL injury that could keep him sidelined until November, Jones has a chance to turn things around following a 2021 campaign in which he posted career-low reception (31) and receiving yardage (434) numbers.

ESPN's Matt Bowen called the Indianapolis Colts the best fit for the 33-year-old Jones. It would give him a chance to reunite with quarterback Matt Ryan and rekindle their chemistry after the pair spent a decade together in Atlanta.

The most obvious connection between Jones and the Colts is his past with Ryan, when the two connected 838 times for 12,744 yards (15.2 avg.) and 60 touchdowns, but also the fact Jones is the most well-known available player at a perceived position of need for the Colts.

Jones (6'3", 220, 33 years old) was the sixth-overall pick by the Falcons in the 2011 NFL Draft. It didn't take him long to become one of the most feared wide receivers in the NFL, and once he got rolling, he became nearly unstoppable, earning five All-Pro and seven Pro Bowl nods as well as a spot on the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) makes a catch in front of New England Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe (25) in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium.
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In 145 career games, Jones has amassed 879 receptions for 13,330 yards (15.2 avg.) and 61 touchdowns as well as 118 yards on 19 carries (6.2 avg.).

He spent the first 10 years of his career in Atlanta before being traded to the Tennessee Titans in 2021 where he posted career lows across the board. He was limited to 10 games after hamstring injuries shaped his season, catching just 31 passes for 434 yards (14.0 avg.) and 1 touchdown. He was then released this March. 

Jones has earned a lot of equity with his career accomplishments, but would he be right for the Colts?

For starters, although it's a high-upside bunch, it has to be acknowledged that the players behind Pittman have either very little experience or very few NFL accomplishments. Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, Dezmon Patmon, and Mike Strachan caught a combined 27 passes in 2021, and Alec Pierce is a rookie.

However, signing a proven player like Jones — although the Colts appear to see a championship window opening — takes developmental snaps away from their younger players, and his knack for injuries (missed 14 games the last two years) might make the move riskier than necessary.

The going rate for a veteran receiver like Jones is usually somewhere between $6-10 million per year. The Colts currently have $12.3 million in cap space according to OverTheCap but have a handful of contracts they can restructure to create more room if they felt it necessary to make this move.

Given his potential price tag coupled with his recent injury history, it seems unlikely that the Colts would make this move, but stranger things have happened.

Should the Colts sign Julio Jones? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!


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