Two days into training camp and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem set to embark on a redemption tour led by the offensive comeback of Julio Jones.
Quarterback Tom Brady found Jones in the corner of the end zone during Thursday’s practice for a lofty touchdown. In accordance with NFL rules, teams are still playing without contact through the first three days of camp, but the football world couldn’t ignore the potential of this duo.
At the risk of jumping to way-too-early conclusions, the Jones-Brady connection could pose a serious scoring threat for the rest of the league.
According to Matt Lombardo, 20 of Jones’ 61 touchdown catches in his career came in the red zone. Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles doubled-down on the motivation for adding Jones to their roster.
“We’ve got an extra weapon, especially in the red zone and out in the field and we’re going to put him to use,” Bowles said. “It gives us a chance to be more creative in some of the things we do, and we’re happy to have him.”
Jones signed a one-year deal with the Bucs on Tuesday.
He has had a prolific career since joining the league in 2011, being named to seven Pro Bowls, two-time first team All-Pro and leading the league in receiving yards twice. However, his last two seasons have been plagued with hamstring injuries that took a toll on his on-field production.
After 10 seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons traded Jones to the Tennessee Titans in 2021. In one season with the Titans, Jones posted career lows in receptions and total receiving yards.
Bowles also pointed to Jones as a key piece in the team’s efforts to replace Rob Gronkowski’s production.
Gronkowski retired for the second time this past June after recording 802 receiving yards on 55 catches last season. The four-time Super Bowl champion seems resolute in his decision, but that hasn’t stopped speculation that he’d return should Brady, his longtime passer and friend, come calling mid-season.
In addition to Jones, the Buccaneers added tight end Kyle Rudolph to the roster. Rudolph was a two-time Pro Bowler in his decade with the Minnesota Vikings, before a one-year stint with the New York Giants.