The trade rumors circulating Julio Jones have been ongoing. The Falcons’ brass hasn’t denied fielding calls or their willingness to ship one of the greatest players in franchise history out of Atlanta. Peter King of NBC Sports spoke with both Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith after Thursday’s first round of the NFL draft. He left with the impression that Julio could still very well be dealt this offseason.
“…The one other thing I left there with is that I don’t think that because Julio Jones wasn’t traded on draft weekend, I don’t think that means that he won’t be traded. And in fact, I’d say it’s better than 50/50 that he will be traded before training camp begins.
The reason is, obviously the Falcons are basically in cap jail right now, and they could clear an awful lot of space by trading Julio Jones June 2 or after. They could separate his cap hit into two years, instead of taking it all now. So, that’s why I still think there’s a good chance he’s gonna get traded.”
King adds that the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders, and New England Patriots could be interested parties. A second-round pick might be enough to get a deal done for the 32-year-old receiver. The three-year extension the past regime gave Jones in September of 2019 is the root of all these rumors. $66 million fully guaranteed is a tough workaround as the Falcons would have to take a $23.25 million dead cap hit in 2021, per OverTheCap, if they were to trade him before June 1st.
If the Falcons were to trade Jones after June 1st, Atlanta would owe just $7.75 in dead money in 2021 — saving $15.3 million. Mike Florio ignorantly suggested cutting him, but the dead cap is far too great even after June 1st. Their only option is a trade after June 1st. This is the first substantial analyst or journalist who feels Julio has as good of a chance to play in 2021 in a Falcons jersey as another. With the emergence of Russell Gage, trading him might be easier. Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts, and Gage are still an effective trio of pass catchers for Arthur Smith.