Unfortunately, a Julio Jones trade went from possible to inevitable in a matter of moments after he spoke to Shannon Sharpe on live television and announced to the world that he was on his way out of Atlanta. I would say it was highly likely that it was going to happen anyway, but that moment made the breakup a whole lot messier, and if there were ever an opportunity to salvage the relationship, it went out the window. So over this past weekend, the Falcons made it official and agreed to trade the All-Pro wide receiver to the Titans for a second-round pick next year and a fourth-round selection in 2023.
Ridding the entirety of his contract and picking up a couple of picks was a quality job by the new regime, especially given the hand they were dealt. Still, I think I speak for all of Falcons nation when I say — there was never going to be an allotment of picks that made me feel happy about trading undoubtedly the most outstanding player in franchise history.
I still remember exactly where I was when Julio Jones was drafted. The date was April 28th, 2011, and the Hawks were taking on the Magic in Game 6 of the first round at Phillips Arena. The atmosphere was electric, as Atlanta would go on to win the game and advance to the next round for the third year in a row. However, the moment I will never forget is the murmurs in the crowd as they began to realize Thomas Dimitroff had completed a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Browns for the 6th overall pick, which resulted in Julio Jones.
All of a sudden, amid a playoff-clinching basketball game, you could hear chants of Julio ripple through the crowd. It was almost like a celebration on top of another celebration — one of the best moments in my life as an Atlanta sports fan, partly because the rest of the story turned out equally perfect.
Julio went on to catch for nearly 1,000 yards as a rookie. By year two, he was a Pro-Bowler, and by his fourth season, he proved to be the best receiver in the game, catching for nearly 1,600 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games. That started a remarkable six-year stretch where Jones caught for at least 1,394 yards in each season — something the league had never seen before him.
Among all those yards came a countless number of highlight plays and memories. I could spend hours collecting some of Julio’s best work and posting videos throughout this article because I have dozens running through my head as I type this, but I would like to leave the individual highlights up to the mind of the reader. Because I’m sure, every single person has a particular moment where Julio provided them with the utmost glee to the point where nothing else mattered at that time. That’s what’s so great about sports, and that’s what was so great about Julio. That is what Julio Jones meant to the city of Atlanta.
So I understand why folks were a bit perturbed when a short Instagram post farewell was all we received.
Falcons fans can breathe now. Julio Jones said he loves Atlanta pic.twitter.com/QZ8EZJcNFb
— SportsTalkATL.com (@SportsTalkATL) June 8, 2021
But to those fans, I really want to know, why would you rather have it any other way? I mean, this is so Julio. This is exactly who he’s been his entire career with the Falcons — a man of few words that kept his head down and outworked everyone in his path. I’ll never let something so petty affect my feelings about one of the greatest athletes in this city’s history.
Julio Jones, you’ll always have a fan in me, and I think I speak for all of Atlanta when I say — Thank You.