The Atlanta Falcons and star receiver Julio Jones are ready to put the NFL trade rumors behind them and for a blockbuster deal to happen. Unfortunately for the two sides, Atlanta’s asking price might be standing the way.
While there have been conflicting reports this offseason regarding who is the driving force behind this separation, it’s evident everyone wants a fresh start. Jones wants to play for a contender and prefers a specific quarterback. Meanwhile, the Falcons need a trade to sign their rookie class.
Jones has been on the trade block for months, with Atlanta fielding calls and inquiring with other teams before and during the 2021 NFL Draft. But the franchise wanted to wait until after June 1, a trade designation that would create $15 million in cap space.
The key date on the NFL offseason calendar is approaching, but Atlanta’s desire to win the trade to help sell the fan base on moving a franchise icon could be causing a major hurdle in negotiations.
“Teams in the know regard the expectations as “outlandish.” The asking price continues to be a first-round pick and full assumption by the new team of his $15.3 million guaranteed salary in 2021, along with another $2 million in guaranteed pay for 2022.”Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio on Atlanta Falcons’ asking price for Julio Jones trade
Asking for one of those things in a trade is a stretch. There are only a handful of clubs that can even afford to absorb Jones’ contract without needing to create additional cap space. That limits the market of suitors, unless Atlanta is willing to eat some of the money owed to the All-Pro receiver.
The Falcons’ desire to net a 2022 first-round pick is understandable. Jones dealt with a hamstring strain in 2020, limiting him to nine games. But even as he enters his age-32 season, the 6-foot-3 wide receiver is one of the best weapons in the NFL.
With that said, everyone around the league is familiar with the circumstances in Atlanta. A disgruntled star who wants out and a team desperate to get under the NFL salary cap reduce Atlanta’s leverage. Even with multiple clubs interested, they hold some leverage in negotiations.
If the Falcons stand any chance of landing a first-round pick for Jones, they will need to cover a portion of his remaining salary. Given the organization’s unwillingness to do that, we’ll likely see the future Hall of Famer traded for a second-round pick in the next few weeks.