As Bill Belichick puts it, OTAs are an educational period to teach and learn, not necessarily evaluate. However, the reps still matter while being a place of overreaction. Some things to note as the NFL gets into OTAs…
The Mac Jones Hype
No pads or defenders albeit, but Jones so far has been making the right impressions on this Patriots team. For what it’s worth, Jones looks to be in much better physical shape compared to the criticism he faced this offseason. While the passing drills were kept to a minimum, chatter has already begun on the rookie Quarterback.
Bill Belichick: “Mac dove into the playbook and continues to do that. Like everybody out there, we all have a lot of things we’ve got to work on. That includes everybody. That’s what he’s doing. That’s what everybody’s doing.”
Kendrick Bourne: “Good energy. Awesome guy. Can feel his leadership already. He has a swag to him that I didn’t know he had at first.”
Michael Onwenu: “I mean, I think he looks good all around… I think he fits the personnel, fits the team.”
Jakobi Meyers: “The whole room, it’s nice to see them go out and compete… It’s a great group of quarterbacks…I’m enjoying Mac and all the other guys. “He’s easy to work with…He’s blessed to have the arm talent he has.”
All intel about Dont’a Hightower reads that he has been present during team meetings. Some may wonder if Hightower is considering retirement. He opted out due to COVID-19 and has nothing else to prove in the NFL. However, his absence is not to be of concern just yet. For instance, defensive leaders such as Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, Stephon Gilmore, and Matthew Judon were all absent as well.
When Bill Belichick was asked about Hightower’s status, he said, “All the players that are on the roster and not here, then my expectations are that they intend to play…But we know things can change, and that’s always a part of life and a part of football. So we’ll take it as it comes.” While that is not much of an answer, there is no reason to concerned at the moment. The concern however, should be paid to the COVID-Opt out returns:
- S Patrick Chung: Retired
- OT Marcus Cannon: Traded
- RB Brandon Bolden: Returns
- TE Matt LaCosse: Returns
- FB Danny Vitale: Released
- WR Marqise Lee: Released
- G/C Najee Toran: Released
Julio Smoke or Fire?
As the NFL inches closer to June 1st, it is likely that Julio Jones will not be a Falcon for much longer. According to Dianna Russini, the Falcons have been offered a 1st round pick for Jones. That price seems to be too steep for most teams considering Jones’ age and cap hit for 2021. Most teams can not financially afford the price of Julio Jones and it is unlikely that Jones will be traded in the NFC. This leaves teams such as the Ravens, Titans, and Patriots as possible suitors.
Bill Belichick is not one to shy away from acquiring a star wide receivers no matter the age (ie: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Josh Gordon, Brandin Cooks). It would be in New England’s best interest to acquire Jones, no matter the price. New England has the cap space and assets to get Jones in a Patriots uniform. With the offensive acquisitions, New England doesn’t need Julio to be in the prime of his career.
The Patriots have red zone threats at the tight end position, combined with serviceable slot options and deep threats. Jones would not need to be an offensive savior, but rather, a player who would greatly elevate the passing attack. The Patriots were reportedly in on A.J. Green this offseason, a player in a very similar place as Jones.