Two days after proving they were mortal, the 5-1 Eagles dipped into a ring-shopping Julio Jones to upgrade their receiving corps behind A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
Philadelphia lacked depth at the position, to begin with, and will be without Quez Watkins for at least three more games due to a hamstring injury that sent the fourth-year pro to injured reserve. Olamide Zaccheaus stepped in for Watkins in a 20-14 setback to the New York Jets and played 57 offensive snaps but was targeted just twice, making one reception for five yards.
Jones, 34, is a likely future Hall of Fame receiver who was one of the NFL’s best from 2011 to 2019 in Atlanta, compiling seven 1,000-yard seasons and five All-Pro nods. The Eagles, though, will be his fourth team over the past four seasons and Jones hasn’t played in more than 10 games since 2019.
At one time, Jones was the most imposing combination of size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and speed (4.39) at the position in the league and will start on the Eagles’ practice squad but is expected to ramp up quickly and be added to the team’s 53-man roster in short order.
The Eagles took a similar path last season en route to Super Bowl LVII when the injury bug hit them at defensive tackle by bringing in Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh.
On paper, Jones would only be the fourth option in the passing game behind Brown and Smith, as well as tight end Dallas Goedert. Some might argue No. 5 now that the Eagles have gotten running back D’Andre Swift involved in the passing game so there is a chance this is nothing more than a big-name trap that doesn’t move the needle all that much.
Even at 34, however, Jones is a significant upgrade over Watkins and/or Zaccheaus and perhaps a needed addition because Philadelphia’s down roster options at the position are either limited to slot work (Britain Covey and Greg Ward) or are developmental prospects with somewhat limited ceilings (Devon Allen and Joseph Ngata).
One issue could be the inactivity because Jones has suffered several hamstring injuries over the past three seasons, limiting him to 29 of a potential 50 games. He is a former teammate of Brown’s from Tennessee and is close to Smith as well through the Alabama connection.
The Eagles also brought back slot corner Josiah Scott on Tuesday with the news that veteran Bradley Roby could miss a game or two with a strained pec. On the offensive line front, the New York Giants signed Tyre Phillips off the Eagles’ PS, limiting one avenue if starting right tackle Lane Johnson has to miss time with an ankle injury.
Jack Driscoll stepped in for Johnson against the Jets but did not play well and could be pushed by Fred Johnson or rookie Tyler Steen.