No, the Philadelphia Eagles have not signed Julio Jones. They have not added this veteran to the wide receiver room. At least not yet.
As the summer 2023 NFL free agent signings wind down before the start of Training Camp, teams are continuing to make roster moves.

Julio Jones has had a storied NFL career. Jones was the sixth overall pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2011, the go-to-big-body, an incredible vertical, clutch receiver that played with such great quarterbacks as Matt Ryan and Tom Brady.

The date was January 13th, 2018. The Falcons were in Philadelphia for the NFC Division Round Playoffs. After a back-and-forth game, the Eagles were up 15–10 with 1:05 remaining. The Falcons were in Eagles territory and had a 4th and goal at the 2 yard-line.

It was about to be one of the biggest plays of Julio Jones’ career.

The Eagles had been here before. In December of 1992, and with the playoffs on the line at Veterans Stadium, the Eagles led 17–13 at home against the Washington Redskins. On the game’s last play, Washington had a 4th and Goal at the Eagles’ 2-yard line. Mark Rypien took the snap from under center, sprinted out, and tried to find Gary Clark in the end zone for the win. Eagles cornerback Eric Allen knocked the ball away and sprinted down the sideline in celebration. The Eagles were going to the playoffs.

This time the stakes were even higher with an opportunity to host the 2018 NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field.

As Matt Ryan calmly broke the huddle, the Falcons’ play called for a secondary read to Mohamed Sanu. This play, however, was always intended for the Falcons franchise receiver. He had always prepared for this moment, and now he had the opportunity to send the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC Championship game for the second straight season.

Jones was no stranger to the big stage. He was a high school State Champion (long-jump, high jump, and triple jump) at Foley High School in Alabama. designated him as the #1 receiver in the country in 2008. Then he joined Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide at the University of Alabama. In a three-year college career, Jones caught 179 passes for 2,653 yards and 15 touchdowns and won a national championship. He was also SEC Freshman of the Year in 2008.

Drafted in the 6th round in 2011, Jones joined the Atlanta Falcons as a franchise receiver. Jones played for the Falcons, Tennessee Titans, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in eleven NFL seasons. He went to the Super Bowl with the Falcons in 2017, a game in which Atlanta led 28–3 before the Patriots began a comeback to win the game 34–28.

Thus far in his illustrious career, Jones has been a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time first-team All-Pro.

Sound familiar?

A.J. Brown was a multi-sport athlete at Starkville High School in Mississippi. At the University of Mississippi, he shared a wide receiver room with DK Metcalf, and in 3 seasons, he had 189 receptions for 2,984 yards. Brown was drafted as a second-round pick in 2019, while teammate DK Metcalf was taken 13 picks later.

In three seasons in Tennessee, A.J. Brown had 3,019 yards and 24 touchdowns. After a draft-day trade in 2022, A.J. Brown joined the Eagles. Last season, Brown had his best year will 88 receptions, 1,496 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

Back at Lincoln Financial Field, in the swirling frigid winds of January 2018, Eagles fans were on their feet. Matt Ryan took the snap from the shotgun, sprinted out, stopped, pumped, and lofted the ball toward Julio Jones at the side of the end zone. Jones, who had gotten tangled with Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills and fell down, got back up, elevated, and extended towards the ball. All of the Delaware Valley breathed a collective sigh of relief as the pass fell incomplete.

Why should the Eagles sign Julio Jones with A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith already at the forefront of one of the best offenses in the NFL?

Back in Philadelphia in 2018, the Falcons were packing up in the visiting locker room at Lincoln Financial Field and about to return to Atlanta with their season having just ended. After the game, Julio Jones took responsibility for the last play. That’s who he is.

At age 34, Julio is still an offensive weapon. Paired with Brown, Smith, Dallas Goedert, and former teammate Olamide Zaccheaus, Jones could add depth and, more importantly, the attention of opposing defenses, creating opportunities for other Eagles receivers.

Familiarity breeds well, friendship.

A.J. Brown was able to experience what Julio Jones could do when they were together on the Titans. Jones was a teammate of A.J. Brown’s in Tennessee in 2021. Tennessee released Julio after the 2021 season.

The 2023–2024 NFL season will be a challenge for A.J. Brown. As the top receiver of franchise quarterback Jalen Hurts, NFL defenses will do all that they can to take him away as an option. NFL defensive secondaries will take a victory from frustrating him with a mix of zone and man coverage in the hopes of leaving him without a reception.

As A.J. Brown found out in Tennessee, Julio Jones is also a mentor. He can still be a resource to all of the Eagles’ receivers, teaching the finer details of how to attack both man and zone coverages while contributing to the offense himself.

But perhaps, there is another reason to add this veteran.

Julio Jones knows these challenges. He knows that life is tough for franchise receivers like A.J. Brown. He knows what teams will try to do to the Eagles’ top target.

He knows how hard Brown will work to be that #1 target for Jalen Hurts again in 2023. He knows what it is like to lose a Super Bowl.

He knows A.J. Brown.
After all, Julio has been here before.


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