Julio Jones on the rise? Maybe. With the 2021 NFL Draft fast approaching and a dreaded cap space situation on the horizon, it seems the Atlanta Falcons are listening closely to suggestions and showing interest in some of the team’s biggest stars.
That likely includes Julio Jones, who will make more than $15 million this year and is on Atlanta’s payroll for $23 million.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Julio Jones may not officially be back with the team until after Week 1. June in a trade assist, but that doesn’t stop rampant speculation that one of the cornerstones of the franchise may have played his last game for the Dirty Birds.
The #Falcons have received calls from teams interested in a possible trade for All-Pro WR Julio Jones, sources say. The transaction could not be executed before the 1st trading day due to ceiling reasons. June, but teams are aware of the situation in Atlanta and are calling. The deal is off now, but later? Maybe.
– Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 26, 2021
If Jones is indeed part of the shakeup, where does the trade make the most sense?
Julio Jones landing sites: Los Angeles Chargers
In fact, the Chargers have already used up over 16% of the cap space of elite wide receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams for next season, and rightfully so. One might think that Julio Jones doesn’t fit that profile. Allen, who strangely enough on the 27th. April, 29, caught 100 passes for 992 yards and eight touchdowns last season – his fourth consecutive year with more than 95 catches. Williams, meanwhile, added 756 yards and five touchdowns on 48 catches, just two seasons removed from leading the league in yards per catch (20.4, 2019).
But Los Angeles has several reasons to trade for someone like Atlanta’s Julio Jones.
First and foremost, sophomore quarterback and 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Justin Herbert wants nothing more than another All-Pro addition to his arsenal to attack a unit that already boasts Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Las Vegas’ Darren Waller and Henry Ruggs III, and Denver’s Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. The need for speed against opponents is disastrously obvious, and a third wideout will only help Herbert in so many ways. This will stretch his opponents and give him room to maneuver. Julio Jones will open runs and receiving routes like Austin Ekeler.
Secondly, the chargers just have room in the lid for such a purchase. Before the 2021 NFL Draft, Los Angeles had about $14.5 million in cap space, fourth in the league behind the Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals. Julio Jones is currently traded for $23.05 million. So it’s not easy to get to $9 million, but it’s very doable.
All indications are that first-year coach Urban Meyer and the Jaguars’ front office will pick Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence as the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Fans have openly applauded his arrival for months, and owning him has left little mystery as to what they plan to do with this elite talent.
After officially dating his girlfriend, Marissa Mowry, in a private ceremony over the weekend of 11. Aprils married in Bluffton, South Carolina, so there couldn’t have been a better wedding gift from Jacksonville officials than treating Lawrence to a high-end screen at Atlanta’s Julio Jones restaurant.
Of course, signing former Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions star Marvin Jones to a two-year contract was a good start to rebuilding this offense. And four-year pro D.J. Chark is a good target, two years removed from a 1,000-yard season.
But Julio Jones would absolutely change the dynamic in Duval County, Florida. Running backs James Robinson and Carlos Hyde would benefit from the extra space in the middle of the field, and Lawrence would have a safe target for short, intermediate and deep throws, as well as a jump ball scenario.
First, Jacksonville can afford Julio Jones, as the Jaguars offer $16.75 million in cap space. And the last time a 12,000-yard receiver played for JAX, it went pretty well, all thanks to Jimmy Smith.
Any room for manoeuvre? Verification. A talented young quarterback who needs another elite receiver? Double check. A service number for a seasoned veteran who can change the culture? Check the discount.
The Cincinnati Bengals wouldn’t be wrong if they decided to make a trade for Atlanta’s Julio Jones. Not only does the club currently have over $16 million in cap space for the 2021 NFL Draft, but the young electric signal-caller is budding star Joe Barrow, who threw for over 2,600 yards with 13 touchdowns and just five interceptions in 10 games before suffering a four-game absence (torn ACL/MCL; damaged PCL and meniscus) against the Washington football team. Burrow will likely be Rookie of the Year if he gets injured, but all indications are that he’s ready for the 2021 campaign.
The departure of A.J. Green to the Arizona Cardinals leaves more catches for young talents Tyler Boyd and T. Higgins, but that means another veteran like Julio Jones won’t hurt the team. Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Bengals will likely select LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase or Oregon offensive tackle Peney Sewell with the No. 5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Chase would be a great offensive asset, but Sewell is a smart and safe choice to protect the quarterback for years to come. Take Sewell, and the Bengals may consider acquiring Julio Jones.
The Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens all made the playoffs last season and only got better in the 2021 offseason. Julio Jones can bring Cincinnati firmly into the mix.
San Francisco 49ers
Let’s be funny, shall we?
In terms of coverage, Atlanta transfer Julio Jones helps San Francisco if the right pieces are involved in the deal. The 49ers are currently over $4 million over the 2021 cap and need to cut back a bit to avoid the luxury tax.
But how will John Lynch’s franchise do it? Trade starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for Julio Jones in a possible one-for-one deal.
The transfer would allow 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan to immediately hand over the reins at quarterback in 2021 to newcomers like North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Alabama’s Mack Jones and Ohio State’s Justin Fields, while also acquiring a Hall of Fame pairing with veterans Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel for a potentially explosive offense with Julio Jones.
It’s also a Julio Jones-related move that gives the Falcons an immediate replacement for their longtime quarterback, Mattie Ice Ryan, and allows them to address several first-round needs later this week. Atlanta will likely be a bit tight with Garoppolo’s remaining contract numbers, especially since Ryan’s contract owes him more than $26.9 million through 2021.
But if Ryan doesn’t think he can move at the end of February 2021, he might be willing to start over if his long safety coverage is part of the trade decision.
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