After weeks of rumours that the Atlanta Falcons were looking to trade Julio Jones because of the team’s salary cap issues, the star receiver flipped the script on Monday.
In a pretty bizarre phone interview with Shannon Sharpe on Undisputed, the seven-time Pro Bowler said he doesn’t plan on suiting up for the Falcons again.
“I’m out of there, man,” Jones told Sharpe when asked if No. 11 wanted to stay in Atlanta.
It doesn’t get much clearer than that. In the wake of Jones’s bombshell admission, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the two-time All-Pro requested a trade a few months ago and that the Falcons “are open to considering it.”
Whether or not Jones actually gets traded is another question, but a deal could give the Falcons some significant savings if they pull the trigger after June 1.
So where could one of the NFL’s best receivers end up should the new Atlanta front office decide it’s the right time to deal him? We’ve looked at the odds and broken down what the acquisition of Julio Jones would mean for the teams favoured to land him if he's traded.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Odds to land Julio Jones if traded: -150
The Patriots are the overwhelming favourites after rumours this weekend that the team had discussed internally the possibility of trading for Jones – far from an unusual front-office conversation, but the only one so far that has been made public.
Jones landing in New England would be fascinating not only because he’d be working with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, but also because the Patriots added so many new weapons to their offence this past off-season.
That said, you could argue Belichick — for all his off-season spending — still doesn’t have a No. 1 receiver at the disposal of whoever between Cam Newton or Mac Jones is starting come Week 1.
Julio Jones would change that.
Odds to land Julio Jones if traded: +300
The Titans offence has taken a couple of significant hits this off-season. Renowned offensive co-ordinator Arthur Smith is now, ironically, the head coach of the Falcons; No. 2 receiver Corey Davis signed with the New York Jets; and tight end Jonnu Smith was part of the Patriots’ spending spree.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Titans did very little in the early part of the off-season to replace the offence lost with the departures of Davis and Smith, who combined for 106 receptions, 1,432 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in 2020. Former L.A. Ram wideout Josh Reynolds was signed, but he’ll likely play primarily in the slot. Outside of A.J. Brown and Reynolds, the Titans’ current depth chart at wide receiver is largely unproven.
In Brown, Tennessee has a young superstar in the making on the verge of a major breakout. If the Titans could add Jones via trade to complement him, wide receiver would go from a question mark in Tennessee to a major strength.
Odds to land Julio Jones if traded: +700
Baltimore is the most intriguing potential landing spot for Jones.
Lamar Jackson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but the Ravens’ passing game has consistently been a work in progress during No. 8’s time as starter. Addressing wide receiver was expected to be a focus this off-season, and Baltimore did select Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman with the one of their two first-round picks last month while also adding Sammy Watkins. But relying on a rookie and a player who has averaged fewer than 550 yards and three TDs over the last three seasons won’t do much to calm the anxieties of Ravens fans.
Jones would immediately become not only the best receiver Lamar has ever played with but would be the best receiver the franchise has had since moving to Baltimore in 1996.
Three other favourites
Green Bay Packers (+750): If the Packers need to show Aaron Rodgers they’re serious about winning now, adding Jones would go a long way in doing that. But it’d be a surprise for Green Bay to make this move without securing the future of their franchise QB first.
San Francisco 49ers (+800): Jones flourished in Kyle Shanahan’s offence when the latter was Atlanta’s offensive co-ordinator in 2015 and 2016, averaging more than 100 yards per game in both seasons.
Indianapolis Colts (+900): The Colts made the risky bet that Carson Wentz’s 2020 struggles were an aberration, and nothing would help ensure that more than adding Jones to an inexperienced receiving corps outside of T.Y. Hilton, whose best days may be behind him.