Julio Jones is coming off one of the worst years of his career, but those around the league still think the new Tennessee Titans receiver is one of the NFL's best.
"This is not an A.J. Green situation where the play clearly declined," an AFC executive said, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "He's still that dude."
Jones ranked fifth among receivers in a poll of league executives, coaches, scouts and players, with at least one vote naming him the NFL's top wideout.
This came despite finishing with 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns, each total the second-fewest of his career. Still, he missed seven games because of hamstring issues.
While this was just the second time he missed more than three games in a season since he entered the league in 2011, his efficiency was still there. He posted an average of 85.7 yards per game and a career-high 11.3 yards per target with the Atlanta Falcons.
Scouts also apparently aren't concerned about any long-term injury problems.
"If they were contending last year, I think he would have played," an AFC scout said.
It should be exciting news for the Titans, who acquired the 32-year-old Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick for a 2022 second-round draft pick and a 2023 fourth-round selection. The demand for Jones likely would have been even higher if not for his salary, which includes a $15.3 million cap hit in 2021 and exceeds $11 million in 2022 and '23.
The two-time All-Pro has received seven Pro Bowl nods in 10 years and should remain elite alongside quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry.
Fellow receiver A.J. Green has had a sharp drop-off, with just 1,217 receiving yards over the last three years combined for the Cincinnati Bengals—including a missed 2019 campaign with an ankle injury. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason on a one-year, $6 million deal.