But that’s where life took Jones on his quest to win a championship – one of the few prizes that eluded the future Hall of Fame wide receiver who spent last season with the Tennessee Titans after a decade with the Atlanta Falcons.
“I didn’t think, I didn’t think that,” Jones said Wednesday. “But that’s in the past. I’m here now. I can’t wait, I’m not looking back. It’s a great opportunity for me to be part of something special in the Buccaneer family. I just can’t wait to get to work.”
Jones recognized the irony of associating with Brady. The quarterback led the patriots‘ historic comeback after a 28-3 deficit to defeat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, which was Jones’ only Super Bowl appearance.
But Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowler who twice led the league in receiving yards, said he wanted the best opportunity to win a ring.
“Why do we have to bring up old stuff? He did it. He did it. He did it,” Jones joked before expressing his excitement. “It’s just a surreal moment. It’s amazing. I’m ready to go, though. At the end of the day, it’s all about responsibility. I have to be responsible for him, for the team, for everyone. , right? With all that said and done, I still have to come to work. I still have to work.
“You can say, ‘Oh yeah, Julio is with the Bucs, we have Mike [Evans], we have Tom”, but we all have to work. No one will give us anything. So we just have to come here and work every day. That’s all it’s about.”
As Brady has done with multiple free agent pick-ups, including former Falcons teammate Jones Russell Gage and more recently tight end Kyle Rudolphhe phoned Jones and expressed his desire for them to play together after Jones was released by the Titans in March.
Jones joked with Brady, “Do you have room there?” But they stayed in touch.
“I spoke to him, I spoke to Tom a couple of times. It wasn’t really about coming to Tampa. We were just communicating, testing each other out, I guess. It was probably a tactic,” he joked, referring to the Patriots. ‘ and Brady’s penchant for operating in secrecy. “But I’m here now.”
He added: “Tom is a great guy, man – who you want to run your ball club for, who you want to play for.”
Jones said he was “100% healthy” and “feeling great” with no lingering issues or pain. He stressed that he had nothing to prove to anyone and was not there to step on toes – a nod to an already crowded reception hall that includes Evans and fellow Pro Bowler. chris godvinwho is coming back from an ACL injury, and Gage.
In fact, the camaraderie of the Bucs’ receivers and the way Evans and Godwin behaved off the field played a big part in bringing Jones to Tampa.
Jones played in 10 regular season games and one postseason game with the Titans last year. His 434 receiving yards in the regular season were the lowest of his career, as was his lone touchdown, but he battled a hamstring injury most of the season. Jones also contributed six catches for 62 receiving yards in the Titans’ 19-16 loss in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
“For me, I’m never frustrated. It’s all about learning curves, isn’t it? So I always learn through whatever I go through in life, because I control myself,” said Jones. “I control my emotions. I control everything. I don’t let anyone else control who I am or how I see things.
“People might say, ‘OK, you haven’t succeeded in this area.’ But for me, I know what success is to me. I can’t let anyone else judge who Julio is. But I’ve had a few nicks here and there. I never look back. Everything revolves around the present. And for me right now, I feel good, I feel amazing. I just have to stay like this. … Just come here and be who I am – I don’t have to be somebody. one other than that.
In an interview with WDAE Radio, Jones said the Bucs were in the picture from the start, adding that he also thought about playing with the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. The Foals and Saints were also interested, but Jones wanted the best opportunity to win a championship.
“He’s still a good football player,” Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said. “We have to replace Gronk’s grips. We have an extra weapon, especially in the red zone, in the open field, we are going to use it. It gives us a chance to be more creative in some of the things we do. We are happy to have him.