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The Atlanta Falcons are prepared to move on from Julio Jones this summer if the right offer comes along. While he doesn’t have a no-trade clause, it seems the All-Pro wide receiver knows where he wants to play in 2021.
Jones, drafted by the Falcons with the No. 6 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, has spent a decade in Atlanta. Viewed as one of the best receiver prospects in his draft class, the 6-foot-3 offensive weapon has exceeded expectations. He holds the all-time NFL record for receiving yards per game (95.5) and will be elected into the Hall of Fame when his time comes.
Atlanta would prefer its icon finished his career with the franchise, but a trade is its only realistic option. The Falcons currently don’t have enough cap space ($1 million) to sign their rookie class and moving Jones later this offseason is the clearest path to making that happen.
Related: Atlanta Falcons will ‘probably’ make Julio Jones trade this summer
If Jones is traded after June 1m it would create more than $15 million in cap space. The financial relief would not only be enough to sign the franchise’s remaining rookies, it would also provide some flexibility for a Calvin Ridley extension or to add depth to the roster.
The Falcons hold the cards in this situation. While only a few clubs could afford to absorb Jones’ contract, there are enough suitors for a bidding war. Atlanta’s asking price reportedly starts at a 2022 second-round pick, but it’s possible they could get more. Given this organization’s history of doing right by tenured players, Atlanta might consider Jones’ preferred trade destination.
According to NBCS Sports Boston’s Michael Holley, Jones really wants to be teammates with Cam Newton and is open to a deal sending him to the New England Patriots if it means playing with a close friend.
Related: New England Patriots schedule and 2021 season predictions
What would a Julio Jones trade cost the Patriots?
We know Bill Belichick isn’t afraid to be aggressive. He signed both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, making them two of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. This is also the same future Hall of Fame coach who traded a 2020 second-round pick for Mohamed Sanu,
New England still needs a No. 1 receiver, especially considering its plans to compete this season. Jones would turn a quality offense into one of the most well-balanced attacks in the NFL. While his numbers were down in 2020, largely due to a hamstring strain, he remains an elite weapon when healthy.
- Julio Jones stats (2014-’19): 623 receptions, 9,388 receiving yards, 37 touchdowns and 102 yards per game
The Patriots could offer a package featuring their 2022 second-round pick and N’Keal Harry. The future pick would be the selling point to Atlanta, but an opportunity to buy low on a former first-round selection is also appealing. One benefit of a deal like this, Atlanta would keep Jones out of the NFC.
Needless to say, the Patriots aren’t the only team that could pursue a Julio Jones trade. Keep an eye on the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders as realistic landing spots.