The Buccaneers added an old rival when they signed receiver Julio Jones this week.
Speaking to the media at a Thursday press conference, General Manager Jason Licht said they didn’t have to “kick too many weeds” to find out information about Jones. After all, has caught 114 passes for 1,841 yards with 11 touchdowns in 16 previous contests against Tampa Bay.
Licht said they started internal conversations about Jones months ago when he was released. And after keeping in touch with his agent throughout that time, the one-year deal worth a reported $6 million with up to $2 million in incentives came to fruition this week.
“We’re really excited to have him,” Licht said. “I know he’s super excited to be here. What a mature guy, tough guy, competitive guy, and he’s just excited to have a chance to win a championship.”
Though the Buccaneers already had Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage on the roster as their top receivers, Tampa Bay wanted to guarantee some depth at the position before it was needed. Last year, the Bucs had injuries pile up at receiver toward the end of the year, with Godwin notably tearing his ACL.
“Todd and I talked to Mike, we talked with Russell, we talked with Chris, and everybody was very excited about having Julio just because of the reputation that he has,” Licht said. “Being a great player, but also being a great teammate, a coach on the field — using all the clichés, but that’s what he is. And we had a lot of injuries last year coming down the stretch that really hurt us. And we wanted to try to avoid that situation this year if we could.”
Jones is coming off an unproductive and injury-riddled season with the Titans, in which he caught just 31 passes for 434 yards with one touchdown in 10 games. If Jones, 33, can get back to even his 2020 level — he made 51 catches for 771 yards with three TDs in nine games that season — then the Bucs receiving corps could arguably be the best in the league.