Playing out Julio Jones’ trade market: Four offers, intriguing returns and an accepted deal

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Atlanta Falcons broad receiver Julio Jones — thought-about probably the greatest receiving abilities within the NFL — is on the commerce market. Proper earlier than the 2021 draft, Falcons GM Terry Fontenot mentioned that the workforce would take heed to commerce gives on the 32-year-old veteran as Atlanta makes an attempt to resolve its present cap area points. No deal has been brokered simply but, however a post-June 1 transfer is trying increasingly more probably. Jones mentioned this week when requested if he was staying with the Falcons, “I am outta there.”

It is not usually that an elite receiver turns into accessible, however the Falcons’ cap scenario — per Over The Cap, they’re considered one of three groups with lower than $1 million in area and have loads of gamers nonetheless to signal — has put them on this place. Jones has three years left on his deal and a totally assured base wage of $15.3 million for 2021. He’s scheduled to price $23.05 million towards the cap this 12 months and $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023. With a diminished cap for this season, groups must do some maneuvering to land Jones and match him below the cap. However there’s definitely a marketplace for him. There’s an opportunity he even will get Atlanta a first-round choose.

So who is likely to be , and the place may Jones land? What may the Falcons get in return? Our NFL Nation reporters served as their groups’ GMs and made real looking gives for Jones, and Falcons reporter Michael Rothstein picked one to just accept. We requested that reporters make gives provided that their groups would legitimately be within the combine for Jones, and cap area, WR depth, contending window and different elements all performed an element. For groups that maybe may have made a proposal however did not, our reporters defined why they opted to go.

Which workforce made one of the best supply and landed Jones in our simulated marketplace for the proficient receiver? This is the way it performed out.

Bounce to:
Why commerce him? | Affords for Jones
Atlanta’s determination | Why some groups handed

Why is Jones in the marketplace?

Jones and the Falcons are on this place for a mess of causes, little or no of it having to do with Jones’ precise on-field play. COVID-19 penalties lowered the cap, and former Atlanta common supervisor Thomas Dimitroff left the workforce in an enormous cap conundrum, so the Falcons needed to do some maneuvering with some top-end expertise to only subject a workforce with aggressive gamers. Contracts for Matt Ryan, Jake Matthews and Deion Jones had been restructured, and Dante Fowler Jr. and Tyeler Davison had been requested to take pay cuts.

The Falcons nonetheless must make room to signal their rookies and are left with two high-salary gamers to launch, commerce, restructure or prolong: Jones and defensive deal with Grady Jarrett. The workforce may prolong Jarrett, as he is a cornerstone of the protection. At age 28, Jarrett ought to have a number of years of high-caliber play left. However barring that, the transfer is Jones. Fontenot is making an attempt to scrub up cap messes, not create new ones, so restructuring Jones appears much less probably. Chopping him shouldn’t be an choice, and neither is extending him, as a result of he has three years left on his deal. And sure, it is value noting that Jones mentioned this week that he is not anticipating to return to Atlanta.

In Jones, a workforce can be getting a productive receiver who makes spectacular performs with regularity. Earlier than final season, when he missed seven video games, Jones had at the very least 1,394 yards and caught at the very least 83 passes in six straight seasons. Ryan mentioned Jones had a major affect on his profession, and it is easy to see why: He has been one of many sport’s prime receivers for the reason that 2014 season as a seven-time Professional Bowler and two-time All-Professional. — Michael Rothstein


May Atlanta hold him?

If Atlanta determined to maintain Jones, it may imply doing one thing with Jarrett’s contract, be it a restructure or an extension. A restructure of both participant’s deal strikes the can a 12 months when it comes to cap points, but when an extension may get finished between Jarrett and the Falcons — Jarrett mentioned that is the purview of his agent, Todd France — then Atlanta may theoretically hold Jones and attempt to make yet another full run with that offensive core.

If the Falcons consider they’re true convention title contenders, then perhaps that is the trail. If there are actual questions on what occurs this season (and the protection is a big cause why), then shifting on from Jones makes far more sense. So this leads us to the marketplace for Jones. — Rothstein

Our gives for Jones

We requested our NFL Nation reporters to play GM and make real looking gives for Jones, mimicking what they consider their groups would possibly truly do. 4 gives got here in. They’re detailed right here in alphabetical order.

Jamison Hensley’s supply: The Ravens would ship the Falcons a 2022 second-rounder and the Chiefs’ 2022 fifth-rounder (acquired in Orlando Brown Jr. commerce). The Falcons would choose up $4 million of Jones’ $15.3 million assured wage in 2021.

Why make this supply? Jones would turn out to be the confirmed No. 1 broad receiver that Lamar Jackson has lacked in his first three NFL seasons. Baltimore’s broad receivers have ranked final within the NFL in catches and receiving yards in every of the previous two seasons.

Rashod Bateman would line up on the skin reverse of Jones, and Marquise Brown would work out of the slot. Sammy Watkins, who acquired $5 million assured this season, would have hassle getting on the sector. This might be essentially the most proficient broad receiver group in Ravens historical past and create extra stability for essentially the most run-heavy offense within the league. Defenses must resolve whether or not to stack the field towards Jackson and operating again J.Okay. Dobbins or double Jones.

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Bart Scott explains why the Ravens may make a deep playoff push in the event that they traded for Julio Jones.

Baltimore has very restricted salary-cap area ($9.7 million) and would wish to restructure a handful of gamers to create extra room — which is one thing Ravens proprietor Steve Bisciotti has been towards — with a view to purchase Jones. And the Ravens are anticipated to offer Jackson a big-money extension, which implies they’ll rely extra on the draft and fewer on free company to construct a workforce round him. The addition of Jones would require giving up some invaluable draft picks, however his game-breaking potential would make a huge impact. — Hensley


Mike Reiss’ supply: The Patriots would ship a 2022 second-rounder and QB Jarrett Stidham.

Why make this supply? Drafting and creating broad receivers has been a problem for the Patriots below Invoice Belichick, so the opportunity of buying and selling for a No. 1-caliber choice is a singular alternative. That is very true in a 12 months the Patriots have tried to capitalize on a market inefficiency, having cap area whereas many groups don’t.

Jones would slide in above Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers on the Patriots’ WR depth chart, and pairing that group with a revamped tight finish room led by free-agent signings Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith would additional rework the Patriots’ passing sport. Defenses must assume twice about crowding the center of the sector to remove the TEs, additionally having to respect Jones as a risk on the skin. Wish to make life simpler for rookie QB Mac Jones ought to the Patriots flip to him? Encompass him with expertise just like what he had at Alabama.

A key a part of the deal can be restructuring Jones’ contract, turning a part of his $15.3 million base wage right into a signing bonus and spreading out the cap hit into 2022 and 2023. Jones wins as a result of he will get some upfront cash, the Falcons can be ok with doing proper for a franchise stalwart, and the Patriots can preserve some salary-cap flexibility in 2021. (New England presently has somewhat over $15 million in area.)

As for Stidham, who as soon as had a path to the Patriots’ No. 1 spot earlier than a dramatic flip, it could be a contemporary begin to study behind Matt Ryan and see if he can notice his potential below Arthur Smith, who did wonders for Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. — Reiss

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Dan Orlovsky says buying and selling for Julio Jones would make the Patriots a top-4 workforce within the AFC.


Nick Wagoner’s supply: The 49ers would ship a 2022 second-rounder and 2023 fourth-rounder.

Why make this supply? The 49ers have two thrilling younger wideouts in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, however that duo mixed to play 19 video games final season as accidents and COVID-19 points stored them on the sideline. Including Jones — who is aware of Kyle Shanahan and his offense properly — would supply the chance to guard Samuel and Aiyuk whereas including the massive outdoors receiver the Niners lack. The transfer additionally places Jones on a contender, which he expressed as a private precedence.

Jones can be an instantaneous starter because the X receiver and supply a wanted deep risk, permitting Aiyuk to line up reverse him and Samuel to work from the slot. The Niners would boast the kind of weapons whoever is enjoying quarterback would wish to thrive.

Talking of which, the best means for the Niners to make this deal work financially would contain shifting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco must signal linebacker Fred Warner to a profitable contract extension, and that’s the first precedence. However it could be far simpler to suit Jones’ $15.3 million wage for 2021 in together with a Warner extension in the event that they had been to save lots of $25 million by shifting on from Garoppolo after June 1.

That may be the best transfer, however it could be tough as a result of the Niners would wish to make certain that Trey Lance is able to begin earlier than handing him the reins. There are, in fact, different methods to suit Jones and a Warner extension in, so a Garoppolo commerce or reduce will not be a prerequisite for a possible deal involving Jones. — Wagoner


Turron Davenport’s supply: The Titans would ship a 2022 third-rounder and LB Rashaan Evans.

Why make this supply? Including Jones to an offense that already options Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry offers the Titans the firepower to win shootouts towards the elite AFC contenders. Jones will hold opposing defenses from regularly stacking the field to cease Henry or using double protection on Brown. Tannehill will get a receiver who’s well-equipped to make contested catches wherever on the sector.

Jones is able to enjoying the X, the Z or within the slot, which provides to the choices the Titans already need to create matchups when shifting gamers throughout the formation. A trio that consists of Jones, Brown and Josh Reynolds seems fairly good on paper.

Tennessee should do some salary-cap gymnastics to clear up the remainder of the required cash to soak up Jones’ contract this season — the Titans have about $3.5 million in area in the mean time — and the deal may have a future affect on contract negotiations for Brown and Reynolds. Brown’s rookie contract expires after the 2022 season, and Reynolds is on a one-year deal for 2021. Jones has $11.5 million in yearly money in 2022 and 2023.

Shifting Evans opens up round $2 million in cap area for the Titans. Having performed below Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees in 2018 and 2019, Evans is greater than able to hitting the bottom operating in Atlanta. Evans turns into an instantaneous starter subsequent to Deion Jones at linebacker for the Falcons. — Davenport

The decision: The Falcons settle for the 49ers’ supply

Why this deal? This was robust. Whereas I anticipated somewhat bit extra of a marketplace for Jones, notably with the Chargers and Colts, there are simply 4 offers on the desk. One caught out as making a great deal of sense for Atlanta: The Niners’ supply of a 2022 second-rounder and 2023 fourth-rounder. A fast run by the opposite three gives:

  • A part of that is to create cap room, so the Ravens asking Atlanta to eat wage was a non-starter — until, maybe, the draft compensation had been larger.

  • Jarrett Stidham does not remedy the long run quarterback challenge for the Falcons, so the Patriots’ deal is out.

  • The Titans’ supply is basically intriguing, and I virtually thought-about taking it. Evans had his greatest NFL season below Pees in 2019 (111 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks), and he’d primarily be one other one-year contract since Tennessee did not choose up his choice.

The San Francisco deal was the best but in addition made essentially the most sense. The Falcons purchase two picks that may assist reshape the roster or supply Fontenot draft capital to maneuver the following two years. It gave, to me, one of the best return of the gives put on the market. That mentioned, this was not a straightforward determination, and I might solely take this deal if I felt one thing could not get finished fast with Jarrett to open up the required cap area. So in a detailed name, I might take San Francisco’s supply. — Rothstein

What occurs now for the 49ers: After signing their draft class, the 49ers may have roughly $11 million in salary-cap area, which isn’t sufficient to tackle Jones’ contract, prolong Warner and depart wiggle room for potential in-season wants.

As talked about, the best option to create the wanted area can be to do one thing with Garoppolo’s contract. Ideally, they may commerce him for a Day 2 choose that might be used as a part of a commerce for Jones. That appears unlikely given the dearth of groups which have the necessity and motivation to tackle his contract proper now. They might restructure Garoppolo’s deal, however that might solely make the hit extra painful once they do finally transfer on from him.

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Mina Kimes says she believes Julio Jones might be a shock commerce choice who might be on the transfer after June 1.

Is there a path to touchdown Jones that features protecting Garoppolo at his present value? Sure, however it could take loads of work. A contract extension that lowers guard Laken Tomlinson’s 2021 cap quantity or attainable restructuring of offers for gamers akin to defensive finish Arik Armstead and security Jimmie Ward can be attainable mechanisms to make it work. Or maybe the 49ers do a easy restructure with Jones, a deal that might enhance his modest price in 2022 and 2023 however make it extra palatable to suit him in 2021. Any of these would enable the Niners to signal Warner to an enormous extension, however it could most likely imply backloading it and largely leaving his 2021 cap quantity untouched. — Wagoner

What occurs now for the Falcons: Atlanta can signal its rookies, together with No. 4 total choose Kyle Pitts. It additionally means a shift offensively, however that was coming anyway, going from Dirk Koetter to Arthur Smith. Calvin Ridley would turn out to be the clear No. 1 choice and an excellent higher candidate for a long-term extension. Extra will get requested of Pitts as a rookie, and Russell Gage would tackle a extra distinguished offensive function. It will take some time for everybody to regulate to Jones’ departure, most notably Ryan, however the Falcons have sufficient choices to be OK even with out Jones on the workforce. — Rothstein

Why 13 groups which may have made sense determined to go

This is a fast take a look at why some groups that might probably match Jones into their monetary plans, have a necessity at broad receiver, or each didn’t make a proposal for Jones on this train. Groups are listed in alphabetical order.

Chicago Bears: The Bears are merely strapped for money and can’t afford Jones. Chicago was so up towards the cap that it just lately needed to launch beginning left deal with Charles Leno to unlock $9 million. Broad receiver Allen Robinson II enjoying below the one-year franchise tag does not assist issues. — Jeff Dickerson

Denver Broncos: The Broncos all the time appear to be in any dialogue about potential touchdown spots for veteran gamers who wish to be traded. However Courtland Sutton is on observe to return from a knee harm and resume No. 1 duties, and the groups desires to get youthful receivers it thinks are prepared for giant roles — Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick — on the sector extra. Sutton, Jeudy, Hamler and Patrick are set to earn roughly $7 million much less mixed than Jones’ $15.3 million assure in 2021 alone. — Jeff Legwold

Detroit Lions: For Lions followers, it could be a match made in heaven. Detroit definitely wants assist on the place, may afford it and needs a star to attract attendance. Plus, he can be a tradition match. However it’s unlikely to occur as a result of the Lions are within the midst of a whole rebuild, and buying and selling away invaluable belongings and draft capital to land an growing older receiver does not make sense with the path they’re headed below the brand new regime. — Eric J. Woodyard

Inexperienced Bay Packers: The Packers’ lengthy historical past of giving up excessive draft picks to commerce for receivers and spending massive cash in free company to amass such assist makes one marvel why they would not pursue Jones. Oh wait, sorry. Incorrect workforce. However did not you hear: The Packers have not given Aaron Rodgers sufficient weapons. Oh wait, sorry. That they had the No. 1 offense final 12 months. Anybody who is aware of something about how the Packers function would know they’d by no means make such a transfer. — Rob Demovsky

Houston Texans: This is not a transfer that might make sense for common supervisor Nick Caserio. The Texans have so many holes on their 2021 roster — they are not even sure who their beginning quarterback can be — and so they’re undoubtedly not a Julio Jones away from being a playoff workforce. — Sarah Barshop

Indianapolis Colts: This might be the proper state of affairs for the Colts … if Jones had been three or 4 years youthful. It’d give Carson Wentz one of many prime receivers within the NFL amid a receiving group that already options T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell. However Jones is 32 years previous, coming off a 2020 season during which he solely performed 9 video games and carries a hefty contract for 3 extra years. The Colts, for as good as they have been financially in recent times, nonetheless have at hand out substantial contract extensions to offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith and linebacker Darius Leonard. — Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars added Marvin Jones Jr. and Phillip Dorsett II in free company, and so they drafted Travis Etienne within the first spherical, planning to make use of him in a number of spots, together with receiver. DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. return, so the Jags are in good condition when it comes to targets for Trevor Lawrence. Why use draft capital — even with all of the cap area at hand — so as to add a 32-year-old receiver to a workforce that’s realistically at the very least two years away from being a critical contender? — Mike DiRocco

Las Vegas Raiders: Cap area, cap area and cap area. The Raiders have roughly $6 million in cap area and nonetheless need to signal a majority of their draft class. Plus, whereas Jones can be an improve over anybody in its receiver room, Las Vegas is dedicated to Henry Ruggs III taking the following step. He’s subsequent to untouchable, and you work the Falcons would need him in a commerce. — Paul Gutierrez

Los Angeles Chargers: No sense in upsetting the apple cart with one other receiver. The Chargers are set with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton at receiver, and operating again Austin Ekeler catches loads of balls. This unit works properly collectively. — Shelley Smith

New Orleans Saints: You possibly can’t rule out the Saints fully, since they’ve a necessity at WR and are by no means shy about pursuing star gamers regardless of salary-cap restraints. However they’re much more slammed up towards the cap than normal this 12 months, and it is laborious to think about Atlanta dealing Jones to its most-heated rival. — Mike Triplett

New York Jets: The Jets have made three long-term investments at broad receiver over the previous 13 months: Corey Davis (2021 free agent), Elijah Moore (2021 second-round choose) and Denzel Mims (2020 second-round choose). Whereas Jones would instantly turn out to be their WR1, he’d be considered as a short-term reply for a workforce that’s pondering past 2021. — Wealthy Cimini

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are tight towards the cap (about $4 million in area) and simply chosen DeVonta Smith within the first spherical. The good play for them can be permitting Smith and their 2020 first-round choose, Jalen Reagor, to develop and add a veteran receiver subsequent season if needed once they’re able to contend. — Tim McManus

Washington Soccer Group: It would not make sense for Washington for a few causes. Jones is 32 and wouldn’t make the workforce an instantaneous Tremendous Bowl contender. Washington can be giving up draft capital and salary-cap area for a participant that also leaves it in need of what it is making an attempt to construct, whereas limiting future strikes. Washington wants to save lots of belongings for a attainable quarterback chase subsequent offseason and needs the cap room to increase its younger gamers — together with present No. 1 receiver Terry McLaurin. — John Keim

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