The Atlanta Falcons want to move on from Julio Jones and it seems the desire is mutual for the All-Pro receiver. Amid increasing trade rumors this summer, the Falcons’ star and future Hall of Famer made his desires very clear on Monday.
Jones has spent the last decade in Atlanta. The No. 6 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the 32-year-old has earned four All-Pro selections, went to the Pro Bowl seven times and twice led the NFL in receiving yards. But with the Falcons destined for a rebuild, Jones seems ready to take his talent elsewhere.
Fox Sports 1’s Shannon Sharpe called Jones during Monday’s episode of Undisputed. Seemingly unaware he was live, with Sharpe not telling him until the end of the phone call, Jones revealed that he won’t be returning to the Falcons and hinted at where he wants to play next season.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, contrary to offseason-long reports about Atlanta making him available for cap-related reasons, Jones requested a trade several months ago.
The revelation is the final proverbial nail in the coffin for Jones’ time in Atlanta. It’s also another blow for the fans, who are now dealing with the reality they are facing.
Who will trade for Julio Jones?
In a perfect world, the Falcons could keep their most beloved icon. But new general manager Terry Fontenot walked into a terrible situation. Atlanta has less than $1 million in cap space, not even enough room to sign their entire 2021 draft class.
A trade isn’t imminent, but it shouldn’t be too long before a deal happens. If the Falcons wait until after June 1, trading Jones will create more than $15 million in cap space. But the remainder of his contract, a three-year deal worth $38.326 million, limits the number of suitors.
The New England Patriots ($16.2 million), San Francisco 49ers ($17.6 million), Los Angeles Chargers ($20.45 million) and Indianapolis Colts ($20.46 million) stand out as realistic landing spots for a deal. While the Las Vegas Raiders could get involved, they likely aren’t the caliber of team Jones wants to play for.
While he doesn’t have a no-trade clause, Atlanta might want to do right by a player who gave so much to the franchise. If multiple teams are willing to offer a 2022 second-round pick, the Falcons may let Jones have some input on his destination.
Two things are for certain. Jones won’t be playing for the Falcons in 2021 and he doesn’t believe the Dallas Cowboys are good enough to contend this season.