If the Atlanta Falcons do attempt to trade Julio Jones, these five teams make sense as realistic landing spots.
As the Atlanta Falcons transition to 2021 with a new GM and head coach coming, the franchise is entering a rebuild. Some notable players could be on the trade block, and earlier this week Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported wide receiver Julio Jones has been “discussed” as a trade piece this offseason.
Jones will not play in Week 17, due to a hamstring injury that has bothered him almost all season. In nine games he’ll finish with 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. In the five games he played at least 80 percent of the snaps, he averaged seven catches and 115 yards per game. He has tended to play through ailments during his career, so that points to the severity of this hamstring issue if he could not get on the field.
Jones is under contract through 2023, with cap numbers of $23.050 million, $19.263 million and $19.263 million. The Falcons would take on a dead cap hit a little more than that $23 million if they traded him before June 1, and a trade after June 1 (or made official then, as unlikely as it might be) would clear $15.3 million in cap space. It’s easier to get out of the deal in 2022, albeit with a $15.5 million dead money hit.
Jones will turn 32 next month, but when he was on the field this season he showed no signs of real decline. A team will have to have cap space to make a realistic deal for him, and be willing to bet on a healthy resurgence.
5 realistic trade destinations for Julio Jones this offseason
Off the bat and without any other cuts, restructures, etc., the Ravens have enough cap space (just shy of $28.5 million right now, via Over The Cap) to fit Jones in. They are also in a window of time where quarterback Lamar Jackson comes cheaply, with the formality they’ll pick up his fifth-year option coming this offseason as a precursor to a bigger contract.
So win-now moves are in order for Baltimore, and acquiring Jones would be that. Draft pick capital, this year and in years to follow, is an easy price to pay.