NFL rumors have swirled all spring about a Julio Jones trade and it might only be a matter of days before the Atlanta Falcons pull the trigger. But there is significant debate about the landing spot and what the Falcons will net in return.
Atlanta finds itself in a position where it must trade the All-Pro receiver. The Falcons have less than $1 million in cap space, hardly enough to sign their 2021 rookie class and to fill out a practice squad. With a Grady Jarrett contract extension off the table, sending Jones to another team is the only path to financial relief.
For his part, Jones also wants out of Atlanta. With the organization seemingly headed for a rebuild under a new regime, the future Hall of Fame selection wants to compete for a Super Bowl. That isn’t happening in Atlanta, but Jones does have a specific quarterback and a few teams in mind as the Falcons explore their options.
Atlanta is waiting until after June 1 before agreeing to a trade. If a deal is submitted to the NFL on June 2 or any day after, it creates $15 million in cap space for the Falcons. As the countdown rolls on, general manager Terry Fontenot is negotiating with multiple teams and there might be a price already established.
NBC Sports’ Peter King reports that the Falcons would accept a 2022 second-round pick from an NFL team if that club absorbed his entire contract. If Atlanta is asked to cover any of the remaining $38 million over the next three seasons, it would likely raise that asking price to a future first-round pick.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini previously reported that a first-round pick might be on the table. If that proves to be true, the Falcons’ front office must decide whether it wants complete cap relief or is willing to write a check to move up in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Where will Julio Jones be traded to?
Unsurprisingly, plenty of teams have inquired about one of the best wide receivers of his era. The San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts have all been mentioned as landing spots.
But the Rams recently pulled out of the hunt and the Patriots have lost momentum among the favorites. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s asking price could be too rich for the Ravens.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported Sunday that many in the league believe Julio Jones is ultimately traded to the Tennessee Titans. King also believes that is a realistic outcome.
Tennessee needs another wide receiver. The Titans not only lost wide receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith in free agency, but play-caller Arthur Smith is now coaching the Falcons. While it would require the front office to make a few moves to create the necessary cap space, Jones is the kind of impact player worth paying for.