Seven weeks ago tomorrow, the Falcons began their effort to find a post-June 1 trade partner for receiver Julio Jones. Five days into the period that would allow the contract to be moved at a manageable cap savings, there’s still no deal.
There’s no deal because the Falcons still want a first-round pick for Jones. Any offer of a first-round pick, as reported last month by ESPN.com, comes with a large asterisk: The Falcons must attach a draft pick to the Jones contract, as much as a second-rounder.
Owner Arthur Blank is calling the shots on this one, and the thinking in league circles is that he refuses to take a second-round pick, given that the Falcons got a second-rounder for receiver Mohamed Sanu — and gave up a second-rounder for tight end Hayden Hurst.
Other factors include Jones $15.3 million guaranteed salary for 2021, along with the belief that he’ll want a new contract, either on the way through the door or after his first season with a new team.
So the wait continues. Jones himself has not agitated publicly for the Falcons to take a deal. Privately, who knows what’s going on? The team and the player, but for the FS1 cold call during which Jones said “I’m out of there,” have done a nice job of keeping any acrimony under wraps. At some point, though, Jones’ wishes may become known, directly or indirectly.
For now, all that’s known is that Jones wants a “big-armed quarterback,” an obvious preference to a popgun (or, as Simms would say, popcorn gun) passer. Jones may have more specific (and less predictable) preferences, but at some point his desire to leave the Falcons will have to take a back seat to his wish list, whatever it may be.
There’s no immediate reason for anyone to blink. The next practical deadline is training camp, unless Jones decides to force the issue by showing up for mandatory minicamp. At some point, the question becomes whether the Falcons will take what they can get or whether one of the interested teams will give Atlanta the face-saving first-rounder it wants.