If Julio Jones is going to be traded, these five teams need to make an offer right away
For those who still do not believe that the Atlanta Falcons will be coming up with some trade offer for wide receiver Julio Jones, you might want to think again. Even he believes his time in Atlanta is up.
During a segment on FS1’s Undisputed with Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless, Jones said he’s “out of there” when asked on air if he would be returning for another season. The Falcons currently are under $1 million in cap space and could free up over $15 million if he were to be trade at the June 1 mark.
Despite being 32 years old, Jones still is a qualified No. 1 receiver. Prior to the 2020 season, he recorded six-straight 1,000-yard seasons an only missed four games during that span. Although general manager Terry Fontenot has been looking for a first-round pick, some teams might be willing to give away more on Day 2 to eat the lucrative $15.3 million for the 2021 season.
Who would those teams be?
Five teams that could trade for Julio Jones
5. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers don’t need another receiver, but adding Jones to an offense and it’s already worked in his favor could make the NFC West club the team to beat. Before he was the hot young name out in the Bay, Kyle Shanahan was thriving as the offensive coordinator with Matt Ryan and Jones. In 2015, Jones posted a career-best 1,871 receiving yards thanks to Shanahan’s play-calling.
Even with Jimmy Garoppolo as the mixed review quarterback, an arsenal of Jones, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk would run the NFC. The question would be how would John Lynch be able to convince Fontenot to take multiple second-round picks since the team won’t have a first-round selection until 2024.
4. Tennessee Titans
Although the Falcons poached former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to be the next head coach, he wasn’t the only key contributor Tennessee lost. Corey Davis elected to leave in free agency to sign with the Jets while Jonnu Smith joined forces with Hunter Henry in New England. Outside of A.J. Brown, there’s much unknown in the receiving corp.
Tennessee is expected to still be in the running for the AFC South crown. Adding another top-tier receiver to Music City offense for Ryan Tannehill’s resurgence would make sense. In a way, Brown would play the role of Calvin Ridley in Atlanta and Derrick Henry would bolster an upgrade in the run game.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Although the Colts seem to be the favorite to win the AFC South, there are multiple holes on the offensive side. Will Carson Wentz improve under Frank Reich? Is T.Y. Hilton only back for one more season? Can Michael Pittman Jr. or Parris Campbell contribute full-time?
With over $20 million in salary cap, general manager Chris Ballard has a chance to swing big for his club before Week 1. The Colts have a top-five defense, an elite offensive run and a three-headed running game. Adding Jones would make them a legitimate contender in the AFC for 2021 and beyond.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
When having a top-10 quarterback still on a rookie contract, general managers must build around them as much as possible. That’s Justin Herbert’s ceiling going into 2021 with a revamped offensive line and a hopeful healthy defense. The Chargers are hoping the loss of Henry won’t be its downfall.
Mike Williams is entering a contract year and although the team added Josh Palmer, having another true No. 1 receiver alongside Keenan Allen only enhances the Chargers’ playoff chances. In the AFC West, the No. 2 spot is wide open. Adding Jones closes it for a franchise that always feels “a year away” instead of arriving.
1. New England Patriots
Of all the teams that seem willing to give up a first-round pick, New England would be the favorite. Bill Belichick spent the entire offseason rebuilding and retooling his offense of arsenal to compete in the AFC East. Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor are quality options, but neither are No. 1 weapons.
If New England is betting on Cam Newton to improve as a passer, adding a weapon like Jones gives some little excuse. Jones averaged 15.1 yards per play last season in nine games while Newton only averaged 7.2 yards per throw.
As the AFC East becomes tighter, Jones, Smith, Henry and others like James White keep the Patriots dynasty alive a while longer with either Newton or rookie Mac Jones calling the shots.