The Buccaneers have just added one of the best wide receivers in the NFL to their already-stacked wide receiver room. Here is where Julio Jones should fall on the depth chart.
The arrival of Julio Jones in Tampa has sparked a firestorm for one of the best teams in the NFL. The Buccaneers already had one of the best wide receiver rooms in the NFL before Jones arrived. Now, the room has reached historic levels.
Jones joins a starting trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage when healthy. This gives the Bucs a great group to use in four-wide receiver sets, and the options in three-receiver sets become even better when changed on the fly to fit the situation.
The biggest question that is arriving is where Jones will fall on the depth chart.
Jones is currently projected to be a starter for the Bucs with the uncertainty surrounding Chris Godwin and his return from injury. Evans and Gage were already a given, and the addition of Jones means that the Bucs won’t have any questions about which of the depth guys will finally be able to play up to the moment.
Once Godwin officially returns is where people start to discuss Gage versus Jones.
However, there are some faulty narratives surrounding Gage and Jones.
Jones is still a better player than Gage, even at 33-years old, and Gage’s contract means nothing about his playing time and what his role projects to be in 2022.
All the Bucs should care about is winning football games, and history shows us that a healthy Julio Jones is still a better player than a healthy Russell Gage.
The injuries are a bit concerning, especially after the past two seasons, but Jones should have a much better situation in Tampa than he did in Tennessee or Atlanta. The added weapons will take the pressure off to play through injury and stay on the field as one of the lone viable receiving threats, and Jones will hopefully be able to see a resurgence like Antonio Brown.
This means that Jones has a very real chance of staying one of the top three receivers during the season if he is able to stay healthy, even when Gage is ready to go.
Jones’ career is not over nor is he a lame duck. While his body might not be able to hold up to WR1 duties, he will definitely be able to thrive alongside two other great options, and that is exactly what he will get in Tampa with the Buccaneers once he becomes a starter.
Russell Gage will get his shot at some point, but he is certainly in danger of falling behind Jones for the second time in his career, and this isn’t a bad thing.
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