Derrick Mason: Julio Not the Missing Piece

The Tennessee Titans great endorses the trade for the wide receiver as assurance that Corey Davis' free-agent departure won't hurt.
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Derrick Mason does not believe Julio Jones was the missing piece for the Tennessee Titans. He sees the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver as more of a replacement part.

“You add Julio Jones, you’re just replacing what you lost in Corey Davis because Corey Davis, quietly speaking, had a great year last year,” Mason, a former Titans receiver, said last week on Glenn Clark Radio in Baltimore. “His catching efficiency was one of the best in the National Football League. … Yes, you get Julio Jones, his pedigree and his history, everything else. But you had a young guy that fit well in the system. So, you take out one. You insert another.

“Yes, you get a little bit more because of the reputation of Julio Jones, but other than that I don’t think you add much more.”

Davis, a 26-year-old who signed a free-agent deal with the New York Jets in March, set a career-high with 984 receiving yards on 65 receptions in 2020, the fourth season for the fifth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. His 70.7 percent catch rate (also a career-high) ranked eighth among the NFL’s top 20 in receiving yards.

Jones, the sixth overall pick in 2011, had one of his worst seasons to date with 771 yards on 51 catches, courtesy of injuries that limited him to just nine games played. His catch rate was 75 percent. For his career, he has averaged 85 receptions and nearly 1,300 yards per season.

Tennessee acquired Jones in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons, which was agreed upon June 6 and officially executed three days later. The Titans gave up a second-round draft pick in 2022 and a fourth-round choice in 2023 for Jones and a sixth-round selection in 2023.

“Now you look at a guy who’s 32 going on 33, dealing with some injuries,” Mason said. “You know, is he the last piece for a team to not just make it to the Super Bowl but win the Super Bowl? I don’t know if he’s the final piece, especially here in Nashville.

“Will he help the offense? Absolutely, he will help the offense. But this is not an offense that is going to go from being a top 10 or top five offense to being the No. 1 offense in the National Football League. That’s just not how they’re built. They’re built to run the football and play-action pass. So, Julio is not going to catch 90 balls or 100 balls in this system.”

Mason was the Titans’ leading receiver in four consecutive seasons (2001-2004) and only topped 90 receptions in running back Eddie George’s final year with the franchise (2003) and again the next one, when George was with the Dallas Cowboys. The second of those teams went 4-12 and allowed 439 points, which ranked 30th in scoring defense.

With the trade, Jones joins a team that was the NFL’s worst on third down, third worst in quarterback sacks and fourth worst in passing yards allowed in 2020, which – combined with salary cap issues – prompted a major personnel overhaul this offseason.

“Was it a good move? I think yeah because [general manager] Jon Robinson has done a really good job since he’s been here,” Mason said of acquiring Jones. “But is this the move that puts them over the top and (gets) them to the Super Bowl? I don’t know because their defense is their Achilles heel right now. And unless they get that situation rectified then – yeah – they’ll make it to the playoffs but how far will they go in the playoffs?”