Jeff Schultz of The Athletic reported that Arthur Smith knew Julio Jones was unhappy in Atlanta even before accepting the job and becoming the Falcons head coach because the two share a mutual agent in Jimmy Sexton. Smith was never worried about an offense without Jones because he’s never coached him, which he spoke about.
Asked about whether or not he feels like the offense can be successful without Julio Jones, #Falcons coach Arthur Smith says "I don't worry about players I never coached."
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) June 8, 2021
If Smith knew of Jones’ displeasure with the organization, Terry Fontenot inherently knew. If Fontenot knew since taking the job, fans should appreciate what the Falcons received in compensation. Julio Jones is the best receiver in the league in his prime, but that isn’t who the Titans traded for.
Fans who are asking “just a second-rounder for Julio” don’t understand the reality of trading a player who is 32-years-old, owed $38 million over three years, missed seven games due to injury last year and doesn’t practice much. Tennessee could look like geniuses by the end of the year if everything works out, but the trade is not without financial risk as the teams agreed the Titans would absorb all of his contract.
Jones is coming off one of his worst statistical seasons after being limited to nine games primarily because of lingering hamstring problems — recording 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. His six-year streak of 1,000-receiving-yard seasons was snapped. Nonetheless, he still ranked seventh in the league with 85.7 receiving yards per game, which was his worst mark since 2012.
Though he was two years younger, at the time, Randy Moss was traded from the Raiders to the Patriots for a fourth-round pick. This is much closer to the deal that saw Jones end up in Tennessee than the Brandin Cooks trades that sent him to three different teams for future first-round picks — age and health are paramount. It is eerily similar to the Cardinals’ trade for DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick, which many in the media criticized.
The reality is that no team was serious about offering high-draft capital while taking on Jones’ bloated contract. The Titans gave reasonable value and took all the financial risk in the deal. It could pay off for both Jones and the Titans, but Atlanta still received a second-round pick for a 32-year-old receiver that has been dealing with health issues the past couple of seasons.