As soon as Julio Jones requested a trade and the Falcons started fielding calls for the star receiver, it became a hot topic of the offseason. Some still didn’t believe that the Falcons would trade the future Hall Of Famer and they would try to make it work. Yesterday, Julio Jones was called by Shannon Sharpe on the show “Undisputed” with Skip Bayless live on TV. During this call Jones said, “he is out of there” when asked if he was going back to Atlanta. He also said he does not want to be in Dallas. Whether the call was staged (I think it was) or not, that really seemed to put the nail in the coffin for Jones’ time in Atlanta. Julio Jones is done in Atlanta, so what’s next?
Before we get into some landing spots for Jones, it is important to remember that the trade isn’t going to come until post June 1. This is because of his contract. If he is traded after June 1st, his average per year number drops down to around $15 million per year. The team that trades for him would be getting him on his remaining three years. Each year that $15m figure is going to go up.
Yes, Jones is now 31 years old. Yes, he missed seven games last year. However, he is still one of the three most talented wide receivers in the NFL. Jones has only played in less than 13 games twice in his entire career. The notion that he is aging and old is just simply not true, well at least the latter of those statements. He is getting older, but he has been relatively healthy his entire career.
Last year, in nine games, he had 51 catches on 68 targets, and a 75% catch rate, the highest in his career. He had 771 yards and three touchdowns. That is an ultra productive year for just nine games. The talent and game is still there.
It is rumored that the Falcons are asking for a first round pick in return for their superstar wide receiver. Whether they get that or not is another question. I think a couple 2nds or a 2nd and a 3rd may even end up getting the job done.
So, who are some teams that make sense as trading partners?
New England Patriots
The Patriots went into a complete rebuild this off-season. This offseason was vastly different than other Patriots off-seasons, and they spent and spent and spent. Somehow, even after all that spending, they still have enough cap space to make this trade. They also went out and drafted QB Mac Jones in the first round. Julio Jones would be an awfully good target for the rookie QB in his first year.
The Colts traded for Carson Wentz this off-season. Wentz’s best years came under then OC Frank Reich in Philadelphia. He is now re-united with him in Indy and it would make a lot of sense to get Wentz a true number one target to go along with some young promising wide receivers in Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell.
San Francisco 49ers
No matter who is under center, Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance, either would benefit from having Julio Jones lined up wide for them. Deebo Samuel has dealt with injuries the past couple years and Brandon Aiyuk is still young. They are both ultra-talented and bring some interesting run after the catch skillsets to the game. However, they both could also benefit greatly from having a true wide receiver presence like Jones on the opposite side of them. Also, Kyle Shanahan with all those weapons would be very fun and I haven’t even mentioned George Kittle yet.
Washington Football Team
Washington has built an extremely good roster. They have one of the best front sevens in all of football. They have young explosive athletes on offense. Also, they just brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the veteran presence at QB. Well, you know what Ryan Fitzpatrick loves? He loves throwing deep. So, why not go get him another deep target to go with Terry McLaurin and Dyami Brown? The WFT could be a scary explosive offense with that trio and then you also throw in Logan Thomas and Antonio Gibson. That sounds like a recipe to win the NFC East walking away.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs? Really? Yes, really. One of the most dangerous things you can do while building a sports franchise is make a strength even stronger. The Chiefs already have the best passing game in all the NFL with the best quarterback in the NFL. They have completely rebuilt the offensive line. So, why not go make what you already do best even better. Combining Julio Jones with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid/Eric Bienemy would be one of the scariest things an NFL defense has ever seen.
The June 1 date is rapidly approaching and I am sure the Falcons are using this time to try and drive up the price of the trade. Whoever is able to land Jones will be getting a top three talented player at his position and hall of famer. They would be getting him on a potential bargain depending on the price of the trade, but even a first, especially if it is a late first round, would be a great deal.
Just as a side note here are the favorites to land Jones per Vegas odds:
Between Jones and Aaron Rodgers, this certainly has been anything but a boring NFL off-season.