Falcons: Will Julio Jones’ comments to Shannon Sharpe hurt his trade value?

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Over the past 24 hours, the Julio Jones trade rumors have spiraled out of control. Terry Fontenot has admitted for weeks that the team was listening to offers on the star receiver because of the Falcons’ current standing with the salary cap. The team needs to offload some money in order to sign the draft class, and moving Jones would save Atlanta over $13 million this year.

However, Monday’s news revealed there is a lot more to this story than initially thought. On Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe called Julio Jones and asked him if he wanted to play for Dallas or stay in Atlanta, to which Julio responded, “I’m outta there,” in reference to Atlanta.

The whole scene was extremely sketchy from a journalistic perspective. Shannon Sharpe didn’t inform Jones that he was on live television until the very end of the segment before he hung up. But regardless, the cat is now out of the bag, and Ian Rapoport confirmed shortly after that Julio requested a trade months ago and that the Falcons have been working to making it happen.

At this point, it certainly feels like Julio Jones playing in another jersey to begin the season is a foregone conclusion. Now, we must wait patiently to find out where. Every team in the NFL would love to have Jones on their roster, but that’s much easier said than done at this point in the offseason, given only a few teams can fit his salary number into their cap sheet. Still, several suitors can make it work, but did Jones’ comments hurt the Falcons’ leverage in trade conversations?

I’ve seen several people mention this on Twitter; however, I doubt it will have much impact — if any at all. Obviously, Terry Fontenot and company would have liked to keep this all under wraps because that’s how well-run organizations operate. Still, Jones’ trade value was always going to be determined by the teams bidding for his services, and the Falcons still don’t HAVE to move him.

Sure, Jones has requested a trade, and the Falcons seem to be doing the right thing for him and the franchise, but they aren’t going to be fooled into taking a low-ball offer. Their demands will still need to be met, and if they aren’t, Jones will have to suck it up and play another season in Atlanta. It wouldn’t be an ideal situation after all that has transpired, but Julio remains a consummate professional, and I couldn’t ever imagine him refusing to play and sitting out the season.

Despite an injury-plagued 2020 campaign and a significant cap hit over the next three years, Jones is still one of the best receivers in the game, and someone around the league will meet the Falcons demands for his services. Do I think Atlanta will get a first-round pick? Probably not, but a second-round selection plus a player or another mid-round pick could be enough for the Falcons to pull the trigger and oblige to Jones’ wishes.

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