The Atlanta Falcons have indicated that they don’t really want to trade All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, but the team’s salary cap situation may be pushing them in that direction.
On Monday morning multiple reports emerged about how Jones is drawing trade interest from multiple teams. For one, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media highlighted how “the Falcons have received calls inquiring about possible trades.”
The #Falcons have received calls from teams inquiring about possible trades for All-Pro WR Julio Jones, sources say. A trade could not happen for cap reasons before June 1, but teams know Atlanta’s brutal cap situation and are calling. A deal won’t happen now, but later? Maybe.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 26, 2021
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Albert Breer & Peter King, Too
For his part, MMQB’s Albert Breer indicates he has been told that “the Falcons are listening to offers on the five-time All-Pro as part of a larger effort to clean up the salary cap—as it stands right now, the Falcons wouldn’t even be able to sign their draft class.”
As such, Breer says it “wouldn’t shock him” if Jones gets traded at some point during this offseason, with a first-round pick (or something roughly equivalent) being the compensation.
“He’s 32, but he’s still shown he can play when healthy, and the three years left on his deal are reasonable ($15.3 million this year, $11.513 million in 2022 and $11.513 million in 2023),” he elaborates.
Similarly, Peter King (Football Morning in America) indicated “it would not surprise [him]” if “the Falcons [put] the framework of a trade together,” one that would become effective on June 2nd. “That way, Atlanta could split Jones’ cap charge between 2021 and 2022 instead of getting bashed with it all this year,” notes King, who believes a future second-round pick would be fair compensation considering Jones’ age and the fact that he is coming off a year in which he missed seven games due to injury.
Potential Trade Partners Include…?
King goes on to name four teams to keep an eye on, namely the Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots, plus a couple of teams with “clear receiver needs—Tennessee and Baltimore,” the latter of whom have previously been mentioned as potential suitors for Jones.
However, it’s still something of a leap to go from exploring the possibilities to Terry Fontenot & Co. pulling the trigger on a trade. Keep in mind that in February, Falcons owner Arthur Blank indicated to NFL.com that both Jones and quarterback Matt Ryan would be back with the Falcons in 2021.
“We expect Julio to be a Falcon, to be playing next year at a very high level as well,” Blank said. “God-willing, taking care of his body, his hamstring will be healed up. He’ll be able to play in more games than he played last year. I know he’s trying as hard as he can, and he’s an athlete and a competitor and he’ll be able to do it.”
Jones has been a member of the Falcons for his entire career, having been selected by Atlanta No. 6 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Alabama. In his ten seasons in the league, he has made the Pro Bowl seven times, with two first-team All-Pro selections (2015 and 2016). Over the course of 135 games he has 848 receptions for 12,896 yards (15.2 yards per catch) and 60 touchdown receptions
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