Will the Falcons find a taker for Julio Jones?

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons
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There are two potential explanations for the sudden rash of reports regarding a potential Julio Jones trade. One, Peter King had it initially and exclusively in Football Morning in America and others used it as a springboard for their own reporting (without crediting King). Two, all three — King, Albert Breer of SI.com, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media — had it simultaneously.

If it’s the latter, it’s entirely possible that the Falcons made a strategic decision to ignite a potential Julio Jones market at the outset of draft week. Teams with clear needs at the receiver position are now on notice that Jones is in play. Whether he’s tentatively traded before the draft, during the draft, or after the draft, the word is out. Jones can be had via an unofficial trade that becomes official on June 2.

Trading for Jones means inheriting a contract that pays out $15.3 million in 2021, $11.513 million in 2022, and $11.513 million in 2023. Even if Jones doesn’t want a new deal on his way through the door to a new team (and he might), that’s a significant obligation in a year with a shrunken cap, especially since Jones missed seven games due to injury in 2020.

King pegs a future second-round pick as “fair” for Jones. The Falcons somehow got a second-round pick for receiver Mohamed Sanu during the 2019 season. Whatever the compensation to the Falcons for Jones, the real question is whether the compensation to Jones will be sufficient to him, if the team trading for Jones is even a team for which he’s willing to play.

Simms and I spent some time on Monday’s PFT Live kicking around the dynamics. Three years ago, Jones made an aggressive push for a major new deal in Atlanta. His cash grab coupled with his 2020 decline possibly has caused the Falcons to sour on him, culminating in what may be a carefully crafted plan to try to entice a team to trade for Jones, freeing up $15.3 million in cash and cap obligations while kicking to next year the final $15.5 million cap charge on the Jones contract.

It won’t be easy to find a taker for Jones. Given the recent injury history and the magnitude of the contract, teams may not be lining up for a player who quite possibly is in decline.

There’s one extra fact that underscores the team’s apparent urgency to make a deal: Jones’ salary for 2021 is fully guaranteed. As a result, the Falcons can’t cut him without owing him the difference between $15.3 million and whatever he gets elsewhere. (I threw a dart suggesting he’d potentially be cut during PFT Live without checking the duration of the guarantees.) Thus, their only way out from under the contract is to trade him, with a post-June 1 move being the only way to work it out this year.

And that explains why the Falcons quite possibly have decided to make it widely known now that Jones could be had as the first order of draft-week business. Persuading someone to take on the balance of his contract in trade is the only way that the Falcons can currently avoid paying out a large chunk of it in 2021.

37 responses to “Will the Falcons find a taker for Julio Jones?

  1. Maybe for a compensatory 3rd at best. And if they do plan to trade him they should probably just take a WR at 4 to replace him.

  2. if these reports are true, that means the Falcons aren’t interested in winning now, which means they are in a rebuilding mindset. And if they’re rebuilding and have the #4 pick in the draft, they are 100% taking a quarterback. Thanks for tipping your hand Falcons…

  3. This screams to me – lets offer as little as possible, and see if we can get a steal. Yes he is older, play may be slipping… So clearly no reason to offer top dollar.

    Combined with the salary cap hell they are in, and the need to free up money – no reason to offer anything other than a day 3 pick. Lets see how willing to move him Atlanta really is

  4. Seems likely that he’ll ultimately be released based on his salary and the Falcons’ cap situation. Hard to imagine they’ll find a trade partner with that reality looming.

  5. I’d consider a 2nd fair, but that contract makes me think even that isn’t worth it. If I were a GM I’d tell the falcons no way on contract alone.

  6. One of the most talented WRs ever. His catch along the sideline late in Super Bowl LI was spectacular, perhaps the best catch in SB history. That said, he’s 32, on the downside of career and missed nearly half of the 2020 season with injuries. Given his big contract, I don’t think any team bites. He’ll be a Falcon in 2021/

  7. If I’m the Packers, I’d be all over this if you can make the cap work. Offer next years 1st knowing that its going to be super low, maybe 32, pair him with Rodgers and Adams. I dont think the Falcons will take less than a mid 2nd for him, when he’s on the field he’s still a game changer and when he’s played he’s shown no sign of slowing down. Falcons are under the cap and can make it work with him next year so they aren’t going to give him away. An $11 million dollar cap charge is like a high #2 receiver anyway.

  8. “the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be”

    no thanks on the Mohamed Sanu Part two – redux!

  9. While those salaries are high they aren’t that bad considering the more recent WR contracts signed. Falcons should’ve traded him 1-2 years ago. They would’ve gotten a kings ransom. Thomas Dimitroff is the gift that keeps in giving… to the other three NFCS teams.

    That said, I won’t be surprised if some GM/coach falls in love with the idea of Julio putting them over the top in the next year or two and overpaying.

  10. All-American Voltron says:
    April 26, 2021 at 10:39 am

    if these reports are true, that means the Falcons aren’t interested in winning now, which means they are in a rebuilding mindset. And if they’re rebuilding and have the #4 pick in the draft, they are 100% taking a quarterback. Thanks for tipping your hand Falcons…

    ==============

    I think it could mean the opposite – that they are planning to win now, but with Ryan. If they pick up Pitts and a good WR with their second pick (maybe even trading up), that would look like a win-now move to me, with trading Jones adding a win-later pick.

  11. Pats have the need and the cap space. Not a Belichick-type move but they are in uncharted waters…

  12. The LAmbs may want him. They don’t care about future draft picks. Pairing him up with Matt Stafford and they may have a potent passing offense.

  13. Forget about the Packers they don’t have the cap space for starters, and Rodgers won’t want another star (albeit an aging one) intruding on his turf. Rodgers has the biggest ego in football, and he’s not sharing the spotlight in Green Bay with anyone so Green Bay is out.

  14. overlyobservant says:
    April 26, 2021 at 12:25 pm
    Pats have the need and the cap space. Not a Belichick-type move but they are in uncharted waters…

    —-

    Randy Moss says hi

  15. Gruden needs to prove something this year could probably make it work under the cap for a 3rd or 4th rounders. Chicago most likely will have a new GM and coach next year so why not go all in and give Dalton a receiver they might me dumb enough to offer a 1st. Chargers have the cap space could offer a 3rd or 4th rounder.

  16. Since Belichick gave them a second for Sanu, they should call and offer him Jones for two firsts and a third.

  17. The Eagles are rumored to be interested. Jalen Hurts throwing to Julio Jones will put the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

  18. I bet Rodgers would restructure his deal to get Jones to the Pack. That would be a killer-combo. Please do not do it Gutey.

  19. While the Rams don’t appear to care about future draft picks, they also don’t have any.

  20. Let’s see, QB’s are being shuffled out after their initial contract is up or before if they don’t produce, running backs last about 3 years, and WR is the next obvious position to take a hit.

    Teams are spending money on the big guys up front. Games are won on the lines, ask the chiefs.

  21. If there wasn’t so much left on his contract you would easily get a 2nd rounder, but not with almost $40 million. The Falcons are actually in a pretty weak position here, especially given that everyone now knows they’re rebuilding.

  22. At 32 years old with injury concerns and with that contract why not just draft a WR with the pick you’d trade for him? It’s a deep group of WR’s this year and you’d have a guy a decade younger on a much cheaper contract.

  23. The Falcons would be lucky if the phone even rings. Who wouldnt want Jones on their roster? But for $15 mil in a cap squeezed year, at his age, coming off injury and having to give up a 2nd round pick? Anyone who trades for him would immediately inherit all the reasons the Falcons are trying to move on. Theyre trying to eat the banana and sell the peel to a hungry person.

  24. It’s abundantly clear nobody here knows what they’re talking about. He’s worth at least a second round pick and his contract, like most, hurts the Falcons way more than the team acquiring him. The Falcons are eating all the bonus money and the new team just gets the salaries. 80% of Julio Jones at 12 mill a year is a steal for a contender. He will decimate any secondary in the league on an offense that has some talent around him and a big armed QB. He had none of that in Atlanta and he’s leading career YPG by a mile. He would have played last year if the team wasn’t eliminated from the playoffs at midseason.

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