Julio Jones requested to be traded away a few months ago, but the root of the issue remains buried in the team’s financial situation. Understanding Julio’s contract is instrumental in understanding why the Falcons are in this mess in the first place. Years ago, an unperturbed Arthur Blank told the Atlanta Journal-Consitution that Julio and Grady Jarrett would be Falcons for life, putting the team in a corner. Jones’ third extension came, and it was massive — a three-year deal worth $66 million, with a $25 million signing bonus and $64 million guaranteed at signing. Guaranteed salary makes up $15.3 million, while $5 million is a prorated signing bonus, and $2.75 million is the prorated option bonus.
The Falcons will clear the $15.3 million in guaranteed salary if Jones is traded after June 1st, which would leave $7.75 million in dead money on the Falcons’ salary cap in 2021. To accomplish such a massive deal, Thomas Dimitroff continued to restructure Matt Ryan‘s egregious contract and push issues down the road.
The ownership of Blank forced Dimitroff into unfavorable negotiations with Ryan and Jones’ representation, but those aren’t the only mistakes Dimitroff made that the new regime is attempting to clean up. The dead cap figures the Falcons have for 2021 are appalling. 15% of the team’s 2021 salary cap is tied up in dead money — a little over $28 million… which is ridiculous. Desmond Trufant, James Carpenter, Ricardo Allen, Jamon Brown, and Allen Bailey combine for over $27 million of that dead cap figure…
There is no secret why the Falcons are in this situation; Dimitroff handed out asinine extensions and restructures trying to keep a group that made it to a Super Bowl together even though the most important piece — Kyle Shanahan — was long gone. Now, Blank realizes he overstepped and put the Falcons in this situation. He’s taken a step away from the franchise, and it’s the right move. Trust the subordinates you put in place. Now, Terry Fontenot will be tasked with digging the Falcons out of this hole while attempting to maintain a competitive roster to give Arthur Smith any shot of competing for a playoff spot. Realistically, Atlanta will finish a couple of games under .500, and fans will blame it on the Julio trade, but they should shift their blame to Arthur Blank and Thomas Dimitroff.