Wide receiver A.J. Brown offered his No. 11 to Julio Jones, but the Tennessee Titans’ newly acquired playmaker declined.
Brown has worn No. 11 since his rookie year after originally sporting No. 18 during rookie minicamp.
“#11 until I retire . I tried to give it up and he wouldn’t take it . Respect,” he tweeted Tuesday.
Jones commented for the first time on being traded to Tennessee on Tuesday, saying in a statement posted to social media that he’ll “never forget my time as an Atlanta Falcon” and thanked the Titans and their fans for “warm welcome” he and his family have received.
“Thank you ATL for all the love you’ve shown me over the years. It’s been an amazing 10 years playing for the city & all the fans. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me over the years & will never forget my time as an Atlanta Falcon.
“Excited for the next part of my journey here in Nashville. To the fans, I want to thank you all for the warm welcome for me and & my family. We are very excited to be part of the Titans family.
“Ready to get to work!”
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It’s no surprise that Brown would offer his number to Jones given how much he lobbied to get the Titans to trade for the 10-year veteran. Brown has always admired and studied Jones dating to his days at Ole Miss, when wide receiver coach Jacob Peeler used to make cutups for him to watch.
“He’s a big receiver just like me, but the thing he does special is he runs routes just like a smaller guy,” Brown told ESPN on Sunday. “For me, in college, he was teaching me everything and didn’t even know it. That’s when I didn’t know him and was just watching him.”
Brown wore No. 1 at Ole Miss and considered making that his number when the NFL made rule changes allowing players other than quarterbacks, punters and kickers to wear single-digit numbers. He was going to ask Warren Moon for permission to wear the retired No. 1 jersey. But that was before he discovered how impactful Warren Moon was to the Oilers/Titans organization.
“I was about to bother you and ask you Is there anyway I could wear the #1 until I read your Bio … I’m not even deserving tbh,” he tweeted in April. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for the game. Legend!! Salute!!”
The rule change could still impact the Titans if Jones, who has worn the No. 11 for the entirety of his 10 seasons in the NFL, chooses to wear No. 8, which was his number at Alabama.
The Titans were able to absorb Jones’ $15.3 million cap number after starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill agreed to restructure his contract to create over $15 million in cap space. Tannehill now holds a $41.8 million cap hit in 2022 and a $39.8 million cap hit in 2023. Jones will have an $11.5 million cap hit in each of the next two seasons.
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