At or near the top of the Chicago Bears’ roster needs at the official start of free agency is wide receiver, and the market added an unexpected upgrade—at least in name value—with news that the Tennessee Titans are releasing Julio Jones.
Julio Jones, 33, will undoubtedly have fans of most receiver-needy teams clamoring for their general manager to sign him. For the Bears, a hard pass is required.
This isn’t meant to suggest Jones doesn’t have some gas left in the tank or that he can’t contribute quality production to a passing attack in 2022. But he doesn’t profile as the kind of player Poles should be focusing on in this year’s free-agent cycle. He’s too old, too often injured, and his play has declined.
Sure, Jones can play the part of the bail-out receiver that Poles said he wants to surround quarterback Justin Fields with, but his advanced age and growing injury history suggest he wouldn’t serve in that capacity very long. Additionally, the Bears aren’t a team that’s one Jones-type player away from competing for a deep playoff run. At least, they aren’t there yet. And by the time they are, Jones will be sipping frozen drinks poolside in retirement.
Jones started 10 games for the Titans last season and totaled just 31 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown. It was a disappointing year for the future Hall of Famer on multiple levels, ranging from health to overall ineffectiveness. While he did provide some flashes of his Atlanta Falcons self, those moments were few and far between. Instead, he looked more like ‘just another guy’ in what was a steep fall from the Jones we’re used to seeing.
Yes, Bears fans are growing impatient with Poles and his lack of urgency to add weapons around Fields through the legal tampering phase of free agency. It’s understandable, too. For an offseason touted as being Fields-first, there’s been no indication—yet—that any big moves are coming on that side of the ball before the 2022 NFL draft. But patience is a virtue when it comes to this time of year. The Bears don’t want to be the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are overspending on players destined to underperform. Any suggestion that Jones would make sense for Chicago is Jaguars-esque. It’d be nothing more than an act of desperation with little to no chance of materializing into good long-term results on the field.
Poles will add playmakers around Fields. It just might take a little longer than expected. Until then, just say no to Julio. You’ll thank me for it.
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