Don't expect it to happen, according to the Atlanta Falcons, but don't rule it out, either -- according to the history of how NFL business works. As it stands, the team has repeatedly stated it has no interest in moving on from All-Pro wideout Julio Jones, including former league MVP Matt Ryan in that proclamation as well. Still, that hasn't stopped teams from seeing if they can change the mind of owner Arthur Blank, with the hopes of stealing away the former.
As clubs ready for the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland, the Falcons have reportedly been receiving trade calls for Julio Jones, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, hoping to use the Falcons cap issues as leverage.
They're currently hovering around just $2.40 million in space as the calendar speeds towards May, and that's certainly not ideal. But with free agency mostly in the books anyway, Atlanta might not be as pressed to free up additional 2021 cap space as others feel they might be, and especially if that means trading away the heart and soul of their otherwise young receiving corps. Jones was awarded a three-year, $66 million deal in 2019 that includes $64 million guaranteed, also making it extremely prohibitive to attempt moving him right now.
Should the Falcons trade Jones ahead of June 1, they'd suffer a hefty dead money hit of $23.25 million and lose $200,00 overall against their cap. That's moving in the wrong direction, and losing Jones to do it is all parts of nonsensical. That tide does flip as a post-June 1 move, however, because the Falcons would see the dead money hit drop to $7.75 million and they'd net $15.3 million in savings, according to OverTheCap. But, while the latter is enticing financially, when it comes to a the overall value of Jones to what the team is looking to do in the first season under new general manager Terry Fontenot -- namely hit the ground running as opposed to starting a rebuild -- the Falcons might still be unconvinced a trade makes sense.
Jones battled injury in 2020 that held him to only nine games played, but he still produced 771 receiving yards, and he's only one season removed from a 1,394 yard, six touchdown campaign in 2019 that followed a 1,677 yard, eight touchdown explosion two seasons ago. His career numbers make him a first ballot Hall of Fame contender, and he's not done, readying to add to his 58 games of 100 yards or more when the regular season gets underway in September.
Yes, Jones is 32 years old, but rumors of his supposed downturn might be greatly exaggerated, and that's why teams are calling the Falcons; but it's also why the Falcons aren't interested -- at least not at the moment.