Julio Jones describes the “surreal” excitement of joining Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Julio Jones describes the "surreal" excitement of joining Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. — Julio Jones said he never thought he would team up with a longtime NFC South Division rival at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and play with Tom Brady.

But that’s where life has taken Jones to win a championship — one of the few prizes elusive for the future Hall of Famer, who spent the final season with the Tennessee Titans after a decade with the Atlanta Falcons Has.

“I didn’t, I didn’t think that,” Jones said on Wednesday. “But that is past. i am here now I look ahead, I don’t look back. It’s a great opportunity for me to be part of something special in the Buccaneer family. I’m just looking forward to going to work.”

Jones acknowledged the irony of teaming up with Brady. The quarterback led the Patriots’ historic comeback from 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 has twice led the league in receiving yards, said he wants 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 venting his excitement. “It’s just a surreal moment. It’s amazing. However, I’m ready to go. At the end of the day, it’s all about accountability. I have to be accountable to him, the team, everyone, right? After all that’s been said and finished, I still have to get to work, I still have to work.

“You can say, ‘Oh yeah, Julio’s with the Bucs, we’ve got Mike [Evans]”We have Tom,” but we all have to work. Nobody 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 several free-agent pickups, including Jones’ former Falcons teammate Russell Gage and most recently Kyle Rudolph, he called Jones and expressed his desire for them to play together after Jones was fired from the Titans in March became.

Jones joked with Brady, “Do you all have room down there?” But they kept in touch.

“I spoke to him, I spoke to Tom several times. It wasn’t really about coming to Tampa. We just communicated, tested each other I think. It was probably a tactic,” he joked, alluding to the Patriots’ and Brady’s penchant for secrecy. “But I’m here now.”

He added: “Tom’s a great guy man – who you want to run your ball club for, who you want to play for.”

Jones said he is “100% healthy” and “feeling great” with no ongoing issues or pain. He stressed he had nothing to prove to anyone and wasn’t here to step on anyone’s toes — a nod to an already crowded receiver room where Evans and fellow Pro Bowler Chris Godwin, who is returning from an ACL injury, are locking in , and gauge.

In fact, the camaraderie of the Bucs receivers and the way Evans and Godwin carried each other off the field played a big part in bringing Jones to Tampa.

Jones was active 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 only touchdown catch, but he struggled with a hamstring injury for most of the season. Jones also contributed six catches for 62 receiving yards in the Titans’ 19-16 division-round loss of the playoffs.

“For me, I’m never frustrated. It’s all about learning curves, right? So I’m always learning through whatever I’m going through in life because I’m controlling myself,” Jones said. “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, ‘Okay, you weren’t successful with that.’ But for me, I know what success means to me. I can’t let anyone else judge who Julio is. But I’ve had a few quirks here and there. I never look back. It’s all about the present. And for me Right now I feel great, I feel great. I just have to stay that way. … Just come here and be who I am – I don’t have to be anyone other than that.”

In an interview with WDAE Radio, Jones said the Bucs were in the picture the whole time, adding that he’s also considering playing with the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. The Colts and Saints were also interested, but Jones wanted the best opportunity to win a championship.

“He’s still a good football player,” said Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles. “We need to replace Gronk’s fangs. We have an additional weapon, especially in the red zone, outside in the open field, we will use it. It gives us the opportunity to be more creative in some cases about the things we do. We are lucky to have him.”

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