Four weeks ago today, the Falcons launched a wafer-thinly-veiled effort to make sure the rest of the league knows that receiver Julio Jones is available to be traded, effective June 2. With news of no specific suitors emerging, the Falcons continue to push the notion that Jones can be had.
The prevailing thought continues to be that the Falcons want a second-round pick. Albert Breer of SI.com reports that the Falcons told inquiring teams (if there actually were any) before the draft that the price was a first-rounder. If that was the real price, the Falcons would have asked for something more than that, in order to provide some room to move.
The reality for the Falcons is that they may have to move even more to get a deal done.
Sure, it seems like the Falcons should get as much or more for Jones than the second-round selection they got for receiver Mohamed Sanu at the 2019 trade deadline. But the presence of a $15.3 million salary, guaranteed for skill, injury, and cap, makes it harder for the Falcons to get a second-round pick — unless they’re willing to pay some of the money due to Jones.
The less the Falcons are willing to pay to facilitate a trade, the less the Falcons will get in trade. The more they’ll pay, the more they’ll get.
As discussed on Monday’s PFT Live, the question becomes whether it’s more important to maximize draft capital or cash/cap space. The Falcons, if they’re simply trying to find someone to take $15.3 million off the books, may have to take a late-round pick. If they want a second-round pick, they may have to pay a large chunk of that salary.
The Panthers, for example, got a sixth-round pick for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater while also paying $7 million of his $10 million guaranteed salary. While the market will be more robust for Jones, the Falcons will need to ask themselves whether they prioritize the best possible pick or the best possible cap outcome.
They also need to hope someone steps up and makes a viable offer. The only team mentioned to date is the Patriots, who reportedly have had “internal discussions” about Jones. As Simms noted this morning, the mention of the P-word could be aimed at getting other teams to say, “Well, if New England is interested, maybe we should be.”
If, in the end, the Falcons want to get the highest possible draft pick for Jones, they may have to keep him through the start of the season and wait for a contending team to perhaps offer more later than it would offer now, if that team believes Jones can be a missing piece to a Super Bowl run. If the goal is to shed cap space, the Falcons may have to take whatever they can get after June 2, and move on.