One thing we’re learning about new Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot is that he likes to keep us all guessing. The team’s lack of salary cap space has forced Atlanta to shop All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones. With trade rumors spreading like wildfire, let’s look at some potential landing spots that would make (some) sense.
Considering each team’s current roster, cap space and potential to contend, here are seven possible trade destinations for Jones after June 1.
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Salary cap space: $15,974,468 Top receivers: Jakobi Meyers/Nelson Agoholor/Kendrick Bourne Why trade makes sense for Patriots: Acquiring someone like Jones is definitely more of 2008 Belichick move, but I doubt the current free-agent frenzy version of Bill would be opposed to the idea. The Patriots have a couple quality receivers with upside, but quarterback Cam Newton does best with a true No. 1 option. Plus, there’s a rumor that Jones would like to team up with Newton, his old NFC South foe. https://twitter.com/NBCSBoston/status/1395806625236140038?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1395806625236140038%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpantherswire.usatoday.com%2F2021%2F05%2F22%2Ffalcons-julio-jones-wants-partner-cam-newton%2F Atlanta’s lack of leverage in trade negotiations could definitely make Jones’ asking price go down a bit in any potential deal. The Falcons don’t want to give away a player of his caliber but may have to. If Jones does in fact want to link up with Newton, it makes a lot of sense for New England to make this deal. The team also drafted Alabama QB Mac Jones in the first round, who could benefit from a big target like Julio if he gets on the field this season.
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Salary cap space: $13,538,841 Top receivers: DeAndre Hopkins/A.J. Green/Andy Isabella Why trade makes sense for Cardinals: Kyler Murray is one of the shortest quarterbacks in football, but the ultra-talented former No. 1 overall pick would have an elite trio of tall wideouts if Arizona were to pull off a trade for Jones. A.J. Green joined the team after another modest year in 2020, but Jones is the far superior talent at this point. Plus, DeAndre Hopkins already said on Twitter that he’d be willing to restructure his contract if it meant bringing Jones to the Cardinals. https://twitter.com/DeAndreHopkins/status/1395799268909371399?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1395799268909371399%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fthefalconswire.usatoday.com%2F2021%2F05%2F21%2Fatlanta-falcons-julio-jones-deandre-hopkins-nfl-trade-rumors%2F Playing in a stacked NFC West, Arizona needs all the firepower it can get.
San Francisco 49ers
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Salary cap space: $17,663,487 Top receivers: Deebo Samuel/Brandon Aiyuk/Mohamed Sanu Why trade makes sense for 49ers: Another talented NFC West team here that could be looking to separate from the pack. Who knows how to better utilize Jones than Kyle Shanahan? After trading up one spot ahead of Atlanta to draft North Dakota State’s Trey Lance at No. 3 overall, San Francisco could acquire a big-bodied, reliable target for its shiny new rookie quarterback. The Falcons’ scheme hurt Jones in recent years as much as injuries, despite remaining among the NFL’s most productive receivers. A fresh start with a familiar face could be a great way for Jones to maximize his productivity over the final few years of his career.
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Salary cap space: $20,927,358 Top receivers: Odell Beckham Jr./Jarvis Landry/Donovan Peoples-Jones Why trade makes sense for Browns: On paper, the Browns have an elite WR core, but Beckham Jr. has been injured and for the first time in a while, Cleveland is a playoff team looking to get over the hump. Throw in over $20 million in cap space and a solid running game and you can see why Jones would be appealing to the Browns. Would the team that originally traded Atlanta the draft pick to acquire Jones a decade ago be the same one that helps jump-start the future Hall of Famer’s second NFL life?
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Salary cap space: $20,466,554 Top receivers: TY Hilton/Michael Pittman/Parris Campbell Why trade makes sense for Colts: Carson Wentz went from a guy with Andrew Luck-level upside, to a guy that resembles the bad parts of Brett Favre (on the field). Nonetheless, the former Eagles signal-caller does have a chance to be the long-term answer in Indianapolis. Adding a weapon like Jones to complement TY Hilton and Michael Pittman could help Wentz cut back on turnovers. Falcons fans have seen Jones play defensive back on more than a few occasions. https://twitter.com/HitStickTV/status/606206675884863488 Indianapolis has over $20 million to play with after signing the team’s 2021 draft class. Adding a talent like Jones could put the Colts in AFC contention this season.
New York Jets
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Salary cap space: $25,052,069 Top receivers: Elijah Moore/Denzel Mims/Corey Davis Why trade makes sense for Jets: Since the Jets can simply trade away a perfectly good Sam Darnold for a slightly shiner toy in Zach Wilson, the least they can do is get him an experienced target to relieve some of that New York City pressure. Elijah Moore could be a steal in the second round, but a true No. 1 option can do wonders for a young QB. The Jets have the money with over $25 million in cap space. The question is would the Falcons send Jones to a non-contending team like New York? This move would seem to appeal to the Jets more than Jones, but we don’t know exactly what to expect from GM Terry Fontenot at this point.
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Salary cap space: $39,202,476 Top receivers: Marvin Jones/DJ Chark/Laviska Shenault Why trade makes sense for Jaguars: With far and away the most salary cap space ($39 million) in the NFL, the Jaguars do make some sense upon closer inspection. Trevor Lawrence is a surefire franchise quarterback and he should be an immediate upgrade in Jacksonville, even as a rookie. The Jaguars have some solid receivers in DJ Chark and Marvin Jones, but Julio Jones would still be the No. 1 option on that roster. While Jacksonville has all the makings of a surprise playoff team, sending Jones to the Jags would be somewhat of a bad look for Falcons GM Terry Fontenot.