Julio Jones is trending big time on social media again today because on Monday's Fox Sports 1 show "Undisputed," Jones took a live call from Shannon Sharpe and told Sharpe "I'm outta there" when asked if Jones would be playing for the Atlanta Falcons this season. When Jones was asked by Sharpe where he would like to go play, he said: "Right now I want to win." It was pretty compelling TV if it wasn't all staged -- some believe Jones wasn't aware he was live on the air.
The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported over the weekend that Jones requested a trade months ago, and there have been a few reports that Jones was to play for the Patriots because of Cam Newton.
Last week, there was a by Jeff Schultz of The Athletic that the Falcons do want to trade the future Hall of Fame receiver. Frankly, that was not new news and Atlanta general manager Terry Fontenot already has said the team is open to a deal but not actively seeking one. There could be some immediacy, however, for financial reasons and SportsLine offers updated odds on Jones' next NFL team. One NFL star already has made it clear he wants Jones on his team.
"When teams ask about players, we have to answer those calls and we have to listen," Fontenot said recently. "We knew when we stepped into this that we were going to have to make some tough decisions, because it's just the reality of it. That's where we are with the salary cap. And so, if someone calls about any player, we have to discuss it and do what's right for the team. That's what we're always going to do. But we hold (Jones) in high regard, we just have to look at every option to get where we need to get."
According to Overthecap.com, Atlanta has only $412,351 of cap space. As Schultz points out, the Falcons will need somewhere around $7 million-$8 million to sign their 2021 draft class, topped by Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, the No. 4 overall pick. Frankly, Pitts is so versatile and could play wideout at times that Jones could be even more expendable than he already was.
Jones is still a good player, but at 32 injuries might be catching up as he was limited to nine games last year because of a hamstring issues and caught 51 passes for 771 yards with three touchdowns — his first season not totaling 1,000 yards since 2013. Atlanta probably wouldn't get more than a second-round pick for him.
If the Falcons were to wait until June 2 to trade Jones, they would create $15.3 million in cap space for this season and the bulk of the cap hit would come in 2022. Any team that would acquire Jones would need the cap space to take on that $15.3 million, although the Falcons reportedly are willing to eat some of that salary to get better compensation back.
On the eve of the draft, SportsLine oddsmakers had the Baltimore Ravens as +250 favorite to land Jones. Perhaps they still might have ancillary interest but receiver isn't a major need at this point after the team selected Minnesota wideout Rashod Bateman at No. 27 overall in the draft. The Ravens also took Oklahoma State wideout Tylan Wallace in the fourth round and don't have much cap space.
The Jaguars, Jets, Bengals, Broncos and Browns all have the cap space to take on Jones' contract but aren't fits for various reasons.
The Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers have the sixth- and seventh-most cap space and could fit Jones in immediately. The Chargers could be downright scary with Jones, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams at receiver for young star QB Justin Herbert. The Chargers may want to make a marketing splash as well as they battle the Rams for fans in L.A. Jones, TY Hilton and Michael Pittman would make a fine trio on the Colts for new QB Carson Wentz.
New England added a handful of receivers in free agency, but none of them are of Jones' caliber. There are some internet rumors out there that the Pats wanted to trade up for the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft (to take a QB) in a deal with the Falcons that included Jones.
The 49ers have a potential Super Bowl-caliber roster and a trio of Jones, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk perhaps could help resuscitate Jimmy Garoppolo's career before he gives way to Trey Lance.
The Las Vegas Raiders don't have a true No. 1 receiver among Henry Ruggs III, John Brown and Hunter Renfrow but they would have to do some cap gymnastics to get Jones. Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported that "the Raiders were one team I'd actually heard connected to Jones during draft week."
Schultz mentions the Titans as possibilities after they lost Corey Davis and Adam Humphries this offseason, but Tennessee also would have to work some salary cap magic. Two-time league rushing champion Derrick Henry made his feelings know about Jones coming to Tennessee with a tweet that simply read: "TITAN TF UP"
Finally, let's not rule out Green Bay simply as the Packers could swing a trade to make Aaron Rodgers happy. The Pack currently have very little cap space, however.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Julio Jones' next team
- Patriots +250
- 49ers +300
- Raiders +400
- Chargers +700
- Titans +800
- Ravens +900
- Colts +1000
- Jaguars +1200
- Packers +1400
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