With all the news that has come out over the last 24-plus hours, it looks like Julio Jones‘ days with the Falcons are numbered. The All-Pro receiver made it clear months ago that he wants out, and the new regime led by Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith seems willing to oblige because they also need to clear cap space to sign their rookie class as well as any other veteran free agents they could be interested in.
We don’t know exactly what made Jones request a trade, but my gut tells me this is about going to a competitive team more than anything. Of course, the Falcons could send him anywhere they want, given he doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, but the new regime appears to be interested in keeping Julio happy on his way out — if possible — and trading him to a team that he would like to play for.
One might think, “Why in the hell would they care about that? If he doesn’t want to play in Atlanta, send him to Alcatraz (AKA the New York Jets).” I understand that thinking; however, it is an emotional response. When you have a star player like Julio Jones that has done so much for an organization, you try to do what is in his best wishes on the way out once it is time to move on — much like the Lions did with Matt Stafford. The Falcons, especially this new regime, do not want to become known for being a stubborn organization that doesn’t care about the players’ interests. That would only ruffle the feathers of others in the locker room as well as any potential future free agents.
So who does Julio Jones reportedly have at the top of his list of preferred destinations? According to Chris Simms, he would like to join the Titans and the Patriots.
Those two teams are a bit surprising because if Jones is trying to compete, they aren’t exactly in much better positions than the Falcons. The Titans have Ryan Tannehill under center and just lost the engine behind their offense in Arthur Smith. Meanwhile, the Patriots currently have Cam Newton at quarterback and are grooming a rookie to take over as soon as possible behind him. I don’t believe either are legit Super Bowl contenders, and I could see the Falcons doing better than both of them in 2021. Regardless, Jones has his reasons, and it seems inevitable that he will be playing elsewhere very soon.
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