Why Bears are unlikely to sign Julio despite WR need


With only a few weeks left until training camps kick off around the NFL, 33-year-old Julio Jones remains available on the free-agent market.

Given the Bears' current crop of wide receivers, it's understandable why some view Jones as a possible late-offseason addition for new general manager Ryan Poles.

There's no doubt that if he's healthy, Jones would arrive and immediately be the Bears' No. 2 wide receiver behind Darnell Mooney. Two hundred and eighteen of last year's targets no longer are on the roster, so there would be ample opportunity for Jones to become a reliable option for quarterback Justin Fields.

But there's little reason to believe Poles and new head coach Matt Eberflus would have their eyes on Jones.

Jones is coming off a season where he caught just 31 passes for 434 yards and one touchdown for the Tennessee Titans. Jones suffered a hamstring injury during training camp and could never recover. He missed seven games and looked hampered when on the field.

This comes after Jones played in just nine games in 2020 with the Atlanta Falcons due to a hamstring injury.

Injury history aside, Poles' entire first offseason as Bears general manager has seen him sign younger players to short-term, prove-it deals as he sets up the Bears for the 2023 offseason.

Jones, a 33-year-old future Hall of Famer, doesn't fit that mold.

The Bears signed Byron Pringle (28) and Equanimeous St. Brown (25) to one-year contracts. They gave Justin Jones (25) a two-year, $12 million deal, which was their big expense, along with a two-year, $10 million agreement with Al-Quadin Muhammad (27).

Jones doesn't fit the Bears' plans for 2022. But, more importantly, the Bears likely don't fit his plans, either.

At this stage of his career, Jones is looking to latch onto a Super Bowl contender in hopes he can finally add the Lombardi Trophy to a resume that has him bound for Canton.

The Bears are entering the first year of a rebuild and, despite a winnable schedule, aren't projected to win more than six or seven games.

The only reason Jones would choose to spend what might be one of his last productive NFL seasons in Chicago will be if the Bears' offer is too good to turn down.

That's unlikely given Poles' attitude toward the free-agent market thus far.

The Bears currently have a little over $23 million in salary-cap space per OverTheCap. There's a chance that number goes up to $35 million if Robert Quinn asks for and receives a trade.

The NFL allows teams to roll over any unused salary cap to the next season.

Right now, the Bears are projected to have $97.6 million to spend next offseason and will have over $100 million if they trade Quinn.

Poles has always had his eye on next offseason. He wants to roll as much of the 2022 cap space over as possible to give himself the freedom and flexibility to make any move he chooses to remake the Bears' roster.

Poles and Eberflus will use the 2022 season to see which players should be part of their long-term vision for the Bears' future. They are building the ground floor of what they hope will become a Super Bowl contender one day.

Jones, a once-great receiver on the final leg of a Hall of Fame career, isn't on the same timeline as the rebuilding Bears.

He'll find a home sometime early in training camp or just before. But it won't be in Chicago.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us