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NFL Draft

Breaking Down Julio Jones’ Top 3 Trade Destinations

  • The Draft Network
  • May 21, 2021
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The Atlanta Falcons are reportedly ready to move on from long-time star wide receiver Julio Jones. The decade-long pairing was seemingly severed when new general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith entered the organization. 

While Fontenot and Smith worked to rebuild Atlanta’s roster, there was a significant salary-cap concern. The Falcons have identified two players they can trade to remedy the situation, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz. One is Jones. This isn’t the first time the Falcons have sought offers for the former No. 6 overall pick; as rosters are beginning to take shape heading into the peak months of the NFL offseason, a trade could finally materialize.  

Jones’ suitor will have to be a contender willing to take on his 2021 base salary, which is $15.3 million. There are a number of teams that could pursue a trade without breaking the bank. The odds, according to BetOnline, currently favor the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, and New England Patriots as the top destinations for Jones. The 49ers and Patriots have the cap space as it stands now along with other receiver-needy teams in the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. The Ravens, and the Tennessee Titans, who have been reportedly eyeing the two-time All-Pro receiver too, would be more cap-strapped.

Here’s a closer look at the top trade destinations for Jones:

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have the least amount of salary-cap space to work with of the following two teams mentioned and need to consider quarterback Lamar Jackson’s looming contract extension. If Baltimore can make it work, it would be adding a much-needed WR1 to its roster. The Ravens already committed to shoring up their receiving corps by selecting Rashod Bateman with the 27th-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Bateman will be a welcomed addition for the Jackson-led offense, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to move into a role Jones could effortlessly fill.

Jones’ pairing with Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who led the team in receiving yards (769) last season, could prove to be the major pass-catching boost Baltimore has been seeking. The Ravens took the cost-effective route with Bateman, instead of looking at the open market for receiving depth. If they’re able, and willing, to spend a little more, Jones could help unlock Baltimore’s passing attack and help the team break through the wall it’s continually stopped at in the postseason.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are becoming synonymous with receiving woes. Whether it’s injury or lack of production—from pass-catchers themselves or quarterbacks—San Francisco has been yearning for a Jones-esque receiver. He would make an impact on this offense no matter who’s passing him the ball and would create a dangerous mismatch in the NFC West where secondary play is more than questionable.

The 49ers will have to put together a trade package that included mid-round picks in next year’s draft along with an average-to-good player(s), but if general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are willing to invest even more into their offense, it would be a win-win for a team looking to bounce back from its Super Bowl hangover campaign. Plus, Shanahan knows Jones quite well from the coach’s time in Atlanta.

New England Patriots

The Patriots and Jones seemed to be intertwined. When Jones’ trade was rumored last month, New England was a logical fit. Nothing came to fruition then, but the Patriots are still a strong contender. They need a true No. 1 receiver after spending money on other passing-catching options like Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry this offseason. While New England’s quarterback situation is still unclear, whether head coach Bill Belichick goes with incumbent Cam Newton or rookie Mac Jones, the team could use the talents of Julio Jones. He would help fill out a receiving corps with Agholor and Bourne, who on their own (and even together) aren’t enough to elevate this offense back into contention. 

The Patriots don’t have a lot of cap space; they currently have just over $15.9 million dollars to work with. They would need to do some restructuring to get this deal done, but with Belichick fighting for continued relevance at the latter stage of his tenure, it would be well worth it.

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