Russell Gage made a couple of eye-popping plays on Sunday against the 49ers, but for the most part, the San Francisco defense held Atlanta’s receiving core in check. The Falcons don’t exactly have a ton of talent on the perimeter, which is why there are some mock drafts that have Terry Fontenot selecting wide receivers in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft. Coming into the season, though, things looked very different. After drafting Kyle Pitts, many fans dreamed of a Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Pitts trio destroying defenses. They got something much different.
The Falcons ended up trading Julio Jones, while Calvin Ridley has missed most of this season as he deals with his mental wellbeing with no end in sight. Atlanta’s pass catchers look much different today than they did in April, and that is why the Falcons will likely be in the market for an alpha-type receiver. In hindsight, though, the Falcons probably came out of the Jones trade better off than the Titans did.
Julio Jones didn’t have a great final year with the Falcons as he dealt with lingering injuries all season, playing in just nine games but still putting up 771 yards. Those injury-riddled seasons have seemingly followed him to Tennesse as he left Sunday’s game against the Steelers with a hamstring injury. He’s missed extensive time and has only produced 369 yards on 25 catches for the Titans this year.
Jones’s violent and physical way of playing the position has caught up with his body. Atlanta got out at the right time, and they have second-round and fourth-round picks to help rebuild this roster. In hindsight, the Falcons did the right thing, but I have seen on social media that fans think it was a masterful job by Terry Fontenot, which is flawed thinking.
Sure, Fontenot should be credited for finding a team to take on the lump sum of Jones’s contract, but it wasn’t his choice. There would’ve been no trade at all, and the Falcons would be dealing with him missing games in Atlanta if it weren’t for the superstar pushing his way out. Sure, the Falcons seem to have “won” the trade, but let’s not confuse a forced outcome with the decision itself. Jones wanted out, and Fontenot obliged; if he didn’t request the trade initially, there is no doubt we would be having a conversation about why Fontenot didn’t trade him sooner because he misses so much time because of injuries.
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