Julio Jones hauling in a pass. By Georgia National Guard (flickr)
- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones said Monday that he is “out of there” when asked about being traded
- The Tennessee Titans are the favorites to acquire Jones in a deal
- A look at Jones’ situation and betting advice can be found below
Reports of the Atlanta Falcons trading Julio Jones had picked up steam in recent weeks and now have reached a boiling point. On Monday morning, the star wide receiver told FS1 host Shannon Sharpe on the air that he is “out of there” when asked if he was going to be traded.
The Falcons would like to deal Jones to open salary cap space. Jones has also reportedly asked to be traded to a team with a legitimate shot at winning the Super Bowl.
Odds have been posted on which team Jones will be playing for when he takes part in his first snap of the 2021 season.
Odds on Team Julio Jones Plays Next Snap For
|Team||Odds at FanDuel|
|New England Patriots||+500|
|San Francisco 49ers||+750|
|Washington Football Team||+750|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+950|
|New Orleans Saints||+3000|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+4500|
Odds as of May 24th
Trade Talks Picking Up
Neither the Falcons nor Jones have publicly acknowledged the seven-time Pro Bowl selection has asked for a trade. However, sources confirmed to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Monday that Jones is indeed looking to leave Atlanta and the Falcons have agreed to listen to offers.
Clarity on the situation between the #Falcons and WR Julio Jones: The All-Pro requested a trade from the organization a few months ago, sources say, and the team then agreed to listen to offers. That’s how it began and why it continues.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 24, 2021
Jones wants to go to a winner.
The Falcons were 4-12 last season and have had losing records each of the past three years since their last playoff appearance in 2017. They reached the Super Bowl following the 2016 season but infamously blew a 28-3 halftime lead to the New England Patriots and lost in overtime.
This is huge: Shannon Sharpe called Julio Jones live on @undisputed: Julio said he’s “out of there” when asked if he wants to stay in Atlanta. He also said he doesn’t want to go to the Cowboys. “I want to win.”
Holy cow. I don’t think he knew he was live. pic.twitter.com/5D8cXjclQt
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) May 24, 2021
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that new Falcons general manager Terry Fonenot has been working the phones trying to make a trade. It would be safe to assume the intensity of those efforts likely picked up Monday.
The Falcons understandably don’t want to just give away Jones and are seeking a first-round draft pick in return. However, having lost his leverage in trade talks, it might be difficult for Fontenot to get a team to match that price.
Atlanta has asked teams that have inquired about Julio Jones for a first-round draft pick in return, per sources. Others around the league don’t believe the Falcons ultimately will get a first for the perennial Pro-Bowl wide receiver.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 24, 2021
Productive … If Healthy
Jones was limited to just nine games last season because of a hamstring injury. However, he was still productive.
Jones caught 51 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns. Under Pro Football Focus’ grading system, he was the eight-best receiver in the NFL last season.
Covering Julio Jones looks like fun. It’s a no-win situation regardless but he just destroys off-coverage. Running his patented “blaze out” here. Do it, #Patriots. pic.twitter.com/j76qMoibGp
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) May 24, 2021
Durability had not been a concern for Jones in recent seasons. He missed just four games in a six-season span from 2014-19.
However, Jones is also 32 years old so it is only fair to wonder if his body might be beginning to breakdown from long-term wear and tear.
Lots of Money Still Guaranteed
Jones has three years and $38.3 million remaining on his contract with $17.3 million guaranteed.
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His full salary of $15.3 million for 2021 is guaranteed, and $2 million is guaranteed of his $11.5 million salary in 2022. Jones’ salary will also be $11.5 million in 2023 but none of that is guaranteed.
Julio Jones discussed his contract situation and his availability for Sunday in Minnesota. pic.twitter.com/Cc8BOUBaYw
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 5, 2019
The Falcons could theoretically absorb some of that money. However, they are currently in a cap crunch and have just $410,351 available for the upcoming season, according to OverTheCap.com.
It seems highly unlikely any team trading for Jones would be willing to take on all the guaranteed money. And it seems highly improbable someone would give up a first-round draft pick in addition to taking on the entire contract.
Where Does He Go?
The Tennessee Titans are the favorites to trade for Jones and Nashville is indeed a logical landing spot.
For one, the Titans need receiver help after Corey Davis left as a free agent and signed with the New York Jets, as did Jonnu Smith with the Patriots. Paired with A.J. Brown, Jones would not necessarily have to be a true WR1 and could also aid the development of the 23-year-old.
Titans star running back Derrick Henry has made it known he’d love to have Jones as a teammate.
TITAN TF UP ⚔️ https://t.co/LOuqC2mH70
— Derrick Henry (@KingHenry_2) May 20, 2021
The New England Patriots are reportedly interested after already getting better targets for Cam Newton – or Mac Jones – in the passing game this offseason. Wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne were signed as free agents along with tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
Even at his advancing age, Jones is better than Agholor and Bourne.
The Las Vegas Raiders also seem like a possible destination. Jon Gruden has been looking for a big-play receiver ever since taking over as coach, whiffing on the Antonio Brown free agent signing in 2019 and drafting (thus far) disappointing Henry Ruggs III in the first round last year.
The prediction here is Jones winds up with the Patriots. Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick desperately want to put a contending team on the field in 2021 after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008. Adding yet another playmaker makes sense.
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.