football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
NFL Draft

Should The Chargers Trade For Julio Jones?

  • The Draft Network
  • May 25, 2021
  • Share

When I woke up Monday morning, the last thing I expected to see was Shannon Sharpe calling Julio Jones live on Undisputed and for Jones to come out and say “I’m outta there” as an answer to the question if he will be back with the Atlanta Falcons. There has been a ton of smoke surrounding Jones ever since the 2021 NFL Draft and there has been much debate about whether or not the Falcons should trade their star receiver. Jones' comments Monday all but confirm that there is some serious fire here and the chances of him playing in Atlanta in 2021 are growing smaller by the day.

After Jones made his comments Monday morning, reports started to come out that Jones had requested a trade early in the offseason and that the Falcons have been taking calls from interested teams. While it initially seemed like the Falcons were the ones who wanted to deal Jones to salvage their terrible cap situation, it actually appears that Jones made this call on his own accord. From Jones' perspective, I understand this fully.

The Falcons are coming off a four-win season and are fresh off firing the general manager who drafted Jones back in 2011 (Thomas Dimitroff) and the coach that led this franchise to the Super Bowl in 2016 (Dan Quinn). As Jones said on Undisputed, he wants to win, and playing with this Falcons roster with a brand-new head coach and an aging Matt Ryan doesn’t really scream winning in 2021.

From the Falcons side, while being forced to trade Jones, who is arguably the best player in franchise history, is less than ideal, there is a positive to take away from this if they do indeed deal him. First and foremost, the Falcons are in cap hell and currently have just $410,351 available in cap space. The Falcons desperately need to make a move to free up space because they need roughly $7 million in order to sign their draft class. Trading Jones after June 1 will save the Falcons nearly $15.3 million in cap space, which is more than enough to get their class signed and be able to be more flexible during camp if injuries strike and they need to make a move.

Trading Jones shouldn’t be too hard for the Falcons, either. Even though Jones is coming off a down year by his standards, he still finished the 2020 season with 771 receiving yards on 51 receptions and three touchdowns all while missing seven games due to a lingering hamstring injury. While Jones' age (32) and injury history are certainly a concern, when he was healthy last season, it was clear that he is still a top-five receiver in the NFL and for the right team could be the missing piece to a Super Bowl run.

Now, I’m sure almost every team would want to acquire Jones, but only a certain number of teams have the available cap space to do so. Whichever team trades for Jones will be on the hook for his 2021 base salary of $15.3 million and will also need to surrender high draft capital for his services. Reports are out that the Falcons are looking for at least a second-round pick in exchange for Jones and were even asking for a first at some point. The list of teams with the amount of cap space available and who believe they are close enough to competing that trading a high pick makes sense isn’t very big, but there is one team that sticks out and that’s the Los Angeles Chargers. 

The Chargers have $21.4 million in available cap space and with quarterback Justin Herbert entering his second season, this team has their sights on the playoffs. One could argue that receiver isn’t a major need and with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams on the roster already, Jones is a luxury. But when you are in a division with the Kansas City Chiefs, any time there’s a chance to add an elite playmaker you do it.

When examining a potential Jones to the Chargers trade, we should first pay attention to the cost. If reports are true, the Falcons would accept a second-round pick for Jones but are currently asking for a first. If I am Tom Telesco, I am offering my second-round pick in exchange for Jones in an instant. Jones still has plenty of good football ahead of him. Just think about a young quarterback developing by throwing to the likes of Allen and Jones. Talk about a way to ensure your franchise quarterback succeeds.

Jones currently has three more years on his current deal, which would give the Chargers control over him until his age-34 season. Looking at some older receivers in recent memory who have produced at high levels between the ages of 32-34 gives a ton of optimism that Jones is in store for some extremely productive years. Larry Fitzgerald averaged 108 receptions, 1,131 yards, and seven touchdowns during that point in his career, and Anquan Boldin averaged 77 receptions, 1,054 receiving yards, and five touchdowns. Jones has always been a much better athlete than both Fitzgerald and Boldin and there is no reason to think that Jones can’t continue to maintain his level of production.

Is trading a second-round pick worth three seasons of elite play from Jones? Duh.

There is also the elephant in the room in the form of Williams' impending contract situation that could make a trade for Jones even more attractive. Williams is set to play on the fifth-year option at a $15.68 million cap hit. That number is the 10th highest cap hit in the NFL at the receiver position, which is extremely steep for a No. 2 wide receiver. Williams has been a productive player for the Chargers when healthy and his field-stretching and contested catching ability are an excellent match for Herbert. The issue with Williams is his inability to stay healthy and his lack of consistent dominant level of play that you would hope to see from a former top-10 pick. It is doubtful that the Chargers extend Williams beyond this season and adding Jones would certainly make letting him walk a much easier call. 

At this point in time, it would be a major upset if Jones isn’t traded at some point this summer—and a trade could come as early as next week. We know Jones wants to win, and we know that Atlanta is going to want top draft capital in return. While teams such as the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Ravens all make sense for Jones, none of those teams can offer Jones a quarterback like Herbert (no disrespect to Lamar Jackson) and the fact that he could spend the end of his career hanging out in Newport Beach should be pretty appealing as well. For the Chargers, adding a Hall of Fame talent like Jones to bolster your already competitive offense to keep pace with the Chiefs makes too much sense and I am sure Jones would help sell some suites at SoFi Stadium this year as well. Let’s get a deal done. 

Filed In

Related Articles

Written By

The Draft Network