The Atlanta Falcons are in cap hell. It has gotten so bad that, as their cap stands now, the Falcons would have trouble even signing rookie Kyle Pitts, who they drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Wide receiver Julio Jones is a $23 million cap hit this season. If the team were to trade him, it would alleviate the team’s cap issues significantly. Despite his injury issues, he is still an incredibly dangerous receiver and Atlanta would surely much rather get draft stock in return for him than simply cut him from the roster.
Here are three potential trade destinations for Julio Jones.
Green Bay Packers
This trade has relatively slim odds, but it could absolutely happen. Their situation is better than Atlanta’s, but the Packers are not exactly swimming in cap space, either.
Everyone knows Rodgers is unhappy. He may want a new contract, more offensive skill position talent, Jordan Love shipped out of town, maybe even a different GM. But Green Bay’s front office could potentially kill two of these birds with one stone. If the Packers want to acquire Jones, they could make the trade and immediately restructure either his or Rodgers’ contracts, or potentially both at once.
Why would Jones do this? Because a team with him, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, red zone phenom Robert Tonyan and second round pick Amari Rodgers (being touted as Randall Cobb 2.0), would rival any team’s weapons core as-is. Throw in one of the best offensive lines in the game and 2020 MVP Aaron Rodgers and the team is maybe favored to win the NFC before Week 1 kicks off. But he needs to be willing to take a pay cut to make it happen.
Why would Rodgers restructure? Well, he reportedly wants a new contract anyway; one that guarantees the organization is committed to him. If the Packers find a way to give him more guaranteed years and money on a deal that also guarantees he can throw to Julio Jones, that could go a long way to showing Rodgers they want to win now and with him. If they want to triple-down on the commitment, Love could be sent in the trade as well. This could save an extra pick they would have to send over and be an admittance to Rodgers that they should have never bet against him. Plus, Love could serve as a backup plan to an aging Matt Ryan.
Again, there are a lot of moving parts here, but the logistics are doable, however tight. Jones could be the missing piece to not only fixing Green Bay’s relationship with Rodgers, but also to another Super Bowl championship.
Lamar Jackson is seen as a running quarterback. For good reason, as he is shattering records left and right in that category. But teams have to be as threatening as possible in every aspect of the game to win in today’s NFL.
It is time to unleash Jackson’s arm and see what he can do, which has been hard as the team is not replete with wide receiver talent. Jones could be that kind of receiver that allows him to take the top off of the defense. As the chemistry develops and Jones proves he is still a huge threat in the passing game, coverages will change, which allows Jackson to run.
This destination really is a no-brainer, as it allows Atlanta to trade Jones out of the NFC. Baltimore is going to be even better if they get him, devaluing the picks the Falcons would receive. But all that may mean is the Ravens might send more selections over in return. Some restructuring of deals would have to be done on Baltimore’s part, but that is a small price to pay for a receiver like Jones.
The Colts have more than enough cap room and draft stock to get this deal done quickly. They are an AFC team too, allowing the Falcons to send Jones out of the conference.
Indianapolis is close to legitimate Super Bowl contention, as long as Carson Wentz returns to form. He suffered major regression with the Eagles, but is now with his old offensive coordinator, Frank Reich. With Reich, Wentz had his best season and set up the team to win the Super Bowl before going out with a knee injury.
The Colts’ new quarterback has the best chance of success if he is made to feel comfortable offensively. The team already has a great offensive line, a solid running game and two good wide receivers. Acquiring Julio Jones in a trade could give him that extra security blanket. It also shows Wentz that the team is committed to him and wants him to succeed.
In short, this trade would be easy to pull off on both sides and be mutually beneficial. The Falcons get a lot of money off of their books and the Colts have to be viewed as Super Bowl contenders immediately.
Featured Image courtesy of Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer
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