Falcons “would like” to trade Julio Jones, but can they find a suitor?

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Very few players are universally loved by their respective fan base. Matt Ryan is one of the most genuine stars the city of Atlanta has ever had, but people still hate him for whatever ridiculous reason. The same could be said for a number of elite players throughout all professional sports.

Julio Jones might be the only unanimously adored superstar across an entire professional league. Even rivals like the Saints respect how great he is partly due to how he goes about his business without saying a word. He’s the ultimate consummate professional, which is why he’s so beloved by everyone. With that being said, it’s beginning to look more and more likely that he won’t play in a Falcons jersey this season.

The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz reported that the Falcons “would like” to trade the All-Pro receiver. Sources also tell Schultz that there are two “viable options to remedy” the salary cap issues: Grady Jarrett or Julio Jones. The draft class must be signed, and they will need $7-8 million in cap space to do so. The team may also be looking to add more veteran free agents, which would require even more money.

Schultz reported the Falcons hadn’t approached Jarrett’s camp about a restructure or an extension, though the former doesn’t need permission. In a trade involving Julio Jones, though, Atlanta is seeking draft capital as compensation, and that a first-round pick seems unlikely, per Schultz. As I mentioned in an earlier article about reasonable compensation, I brought up a top-20 protected first-round pick that turns into a second and third-round pick as fair, but I also brought up that potential suitors could ask Atlanta to absorb a portion of his bloated contract — Schultz confirmed two sources have said teams have inquired about just this.

According to OverTheCap, Jones’s dead cap figure would be $7,750,000 every year until his contract ends if the trade occurred post-June 1st — saving the franchise $15,300,000 against the cap this year and $11,513,000 in the subsequent two years. If his contract were unamended, $38,326,000 over a three-year period would be the cost of his services. Schultz reports that the Ravens, 49ers, Patriots, Colts, and Chargers are teams who could take on the contract.

In a separate report, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated stated that trade conversations have been quiet. Fontenot will not trade Julio Jones away for minimal compensation, but I would expect those conversations to continually be in headlines until a trade comes to fruition. Arthur Smith will compete in 2021, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do it at the cost of the future. The new regime is trying to build something great, and regardless of your feelings, Julio Jones might not be a part of their plans.

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