The Atlanta Falcons remain active in finding a trade to move star wide receiver Julio Jones. The Falcons continue to filter through offers from various teams hoping to acquire the Future Hall of Famer. That said, any potential deal will come with another prominent aspect that may make finding a trade a more complex route.
Julio Jones wants out of Atlanta
Since this year’s draft, the Falcons have progressively shifted toward moving the star wide receiver.
He’s coming off an injury-plagued 2020 campaign, where he recorded 51 catches for 771 receiving yards and three touchdowns in nine games played. The Pro Bowl wideout remains one of the game’s best offensive talents despite playing fewer than 14 regular-season games for the first time since 2013.
Jones holds the Falcons’ all-time records for receiving yards (12,125), receptions (812), and most 1,000 receiving yard campaigns (seven). He’s also the fastest to reach 12,000 receiving yards (125 games) and most games with at least 250 receiving yards (three).
Any team hoping to acquire the star wideout will have another requirement to fulfill.
Julio Jones just made a trade from the Falcons much more difficult
The Falcons are moving inevitably toward trading Jones before the 2021 season.
Beyond the star wideout wanting to play elsewhere, it appears any team that acquires the 32-year-old will likely have to work out a new long-term deal, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Jones is currently in the first year of his three-year, $66 million extension that he inked in September 2019. He holds roughly more than a $23 million cap hit in 2021, which is the highest among all wide receivers. However, the final year of the contract has only a $7.75 million dead cap hit.
The question becomes when he will ink a new deal as he may play the first season before working out a new contract. It depends on what Jones’ mindset is concerning his long-term future.
Jones will likely take a similar route that DeAndre Hopkins ventured after landing with the Arizona Cardinals. Shortly after the trade, Hopkins inked a two-year extension worth $54.5 million, paying him $27.25 million per season in 2023 and 2024.
Jones will likely want to top Hopkins’ annual salary to push himself north of $28 million per year. More importantly, the desire for a new contract adds another wrinkle to the equation that makes working out a trade a more complicated process.
Atlanta desires a lucrative trade package
The Falcons have accepted that Jones wants a change of scenery, shifting the attention entirely to the trade market.
Recent reports suggest that Atlanta is hoping to land a first-round selection in an offer. At least one franchise has presented a 2022 first-round pick, but other interested teams have expressed the asking price is too high.
NBC Sports‘ Peter King is reporting that the Falcons may accept a 2022 second-round selection for Jones. Atlanta is only willing to drop the asking price under the circumstance that it includes no requirement concerning Jones’ playing time in a contract that frees the team from paying his remaining salary.
Several teams such as the New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers, LA Rams, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks have expressed interest. The Titans are reportedly viewed as the frontrunner to land the All-Pro wideout despite the unlikelihood that the team offers a first-round pick.
Various outlets have also indicated that Jones has circled Tennessee and New England as his desired landing spots. It’s only a matter of time before the Falcons find a new NFL home for the seven-time Pro Bowler.