The Atlanta Falcons are taking calls from teams on All-Pro receiver Julio Jones, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. And while the Philadelphia Eagles weren’t mentioned in any trade rumors (not yet), history would suggest they could at least inquire about Jones.
The Eagles were linked to the seven-time Pro Bowler in 2019 when injuries decimated their pass-catchers group. No trade happened at the time due to Jones’ insane contract — average annual salary of $22 million — but that was two years ago. The Falcons seem committed to a slow rebuild and own the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft. They could decide to deal Jones with a post-June 1 designation to save money considering their dire salary-cap situation ($6.125 in the red).
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
Jones is due $15.3 million in base salary for 2021, with a $23.05 million cap hit and $40.55 dead-cap charge for Atlanta. However, if the Falcons trade him post-June 1 then that cap number can be spread out over two seasons. The million-dollar question for Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is, how much would he be willing to give up for a 32-year-old playmaker? Multiple draft picks? Zach Ertz?
Yes, Jones remains one of the best receivers in the business: 848 career receptions for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns. But he turns 33 in February and is coming off his second-worst statistical season, an injury-riddled year where he played in just nine games. He had 771 yards on 512 catches with three touchdowns in 2020.
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Roseman Evaluates Draft Process for Receivers
If the Eagles don’t pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade for Jones, it stands to reason they’ll look at drafting a receiver in either the first or second round. Everyone knows the names at this point, guys like DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore are the likely suspects on their radar.
However, Roseman warned about looking too hard at a person’s collegiate stats. The scouting department pours over every rookie’s film to account for tough matchups, the level of competition, and character flaws.
“The wide receiver transition in the National Football League has historically been tough,” Roseman told reporters. “Over the last couple years, the hit rates have been a little bit more improved, and that’s because when you’re talking about the kind of coverages, they’re facing in college football, it’s different than what’s going on in the National Football League. There may be a matchup in college football where the fourth corner who is never going to have an opportunity to play in the National Football League is guarding them in college because that’s kind of a matchup, where here, the third and fourth corners are really good players.”
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 26, 2021
Philadelphia is also in the market for a top young cornerback. Any player on the Eagles’ draft board must fit in with new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s system, according to Andy Weidl (vice-president of player personnel).
“We had great meetings last week about defensive backs,” Weidl said, “and we’ve got an opportunity with 11 picks to hit on a couple guys next week.”
Eagles Killer Over the Years
Eagles fans have been wanting Jones to land in the Eagles’ nest for a long time. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has been a thorn in the franchise’s side going back to his rookie year in 2011. In six career games versus Philly, Jones has 41 catches for 703 yards and five touchdowns. He infamously burned the Eagles for a 54-yard game-winning touchdown the last time these two teams met in 2019.
With his 54-yard fourth-quarter touchdown, All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones (@juliojones_11) became the franchise’s all-time receiving yards leader and sealed the @AtlantaFalcons‘ victory over the @Eagles. https://t.co/LKhkUFtnW7
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) September 16, 2019