Julio has played his last snap in Falcons threads.
The Atlanta Falcons agreed to ship superstar wide receiver Julio Jones out to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a 2022 second-rounder and a 2023 fourth-rounder. The Titans will also receive a 2023 sixth-round draft choice as part of the deal, per ESPN.
The deal comes a few weeks after Shannon Sharpe called Jones live on Undisputed (maybe with the latter’s knowledge, but maybe not) and asked him if he was staying in Atlanta for the 2021 season. Jones responded with a chuckle before informing Sharpe and—perhaps inadvertently—the whole sport world that he had no intention of being with the Falcons for the upcoming season.
The trade will not be official until Jones goes through a physical, according to the Titans, and they also still need to figure out how they will make room for Jones’ big contract, which will most likely be done by restructuring contracts. Nevertheless, the team’s brass is already celebrating the acquisition.
“Excited to add Julio to the football team. He’s excited to be part of what we’ve got going on in Nashville. It’s a big day for our team,” Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson said while speaking to the media on Sunday.
“He’s big, he’s fast, he’s tough, he’s great with the ball in his hands, a willing blocker,” Robinson continued. “I think a lot of things that we ask of our receivers—get open, catch and block—he certainly checks those boxes and has done it at a high level in the National Football League.”
The rest of the Titans’ organization was just as excited as the front office, with a handful of the squad’s stars taking to social media to express their happiness in welcoming Jones to the team. Running back Derrick Henry, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, and fellow wideout AJ Brown all shared welcome messages.
After losing dynamic tight end Jonnu Smith and burgeoning receiver Corey Davis in free agency to the New England Patriots and New York Jets, respectively, the arrival of Jones is definitely a welcome sign for everyone involved on the offensive side. The Titans are currently offering enormous +2,650 NFL odds to win the Super Bowl, which could prove to be a prescient NFL pick if the addition of Jones works out well
Jones’ current salary makes him the second-highest paid wideout in the game today behind only DeAndre Hopkins, but can he still play up to that level? He is coming off arguably his worst season in the pros, during which he played just nine games and put up 51 catches for 771 yards, all three of which are career-lows apart from his broken-foot shortened five-game campaign back in 2013.
Before last year, the 32-year-old had been on a six-season tear arguably as good as any other such stretch by a receiver. Between 2014 and 2019, the Foley, Alabama native put up 9,388 yards on 623 grabs, which averages out to 1564.7 yards and 103.8 receptions a year during that time.
The Crimson Tide alumnus still cuts a very imposing frame at 6’3” and 220 lbs, and he will hopefully be past that nagging hamstring issue that plagued him during the 2020 campaign, which should give him his full range of motion and top-level speed and quickness back.
With Henry attracting seven- and eight-man boxes on a regular basis, Jones and Brown will be seeing a whole lot of single-coverage, and we’d expect both of those physical specimens to eat in those scenarios. They already had Brown, who’s an absolute unit, and now you add a gazelle like Jones to the mix? Tannehill is laughin’ right now.
The Falcons, meanwhile, part ways with a wideout who they took at No. 6 overall back in 2011, having traded five draft choices to get in position to take the future five-time All-Pro. He played a full decade in the Peach State, racking up 848 receptions (Falcons franchise record) for 12,896 yards (franchise record) and 60 touchdown grabs.
Despite his struggles last season, he still boasts an NFL-record 95.5 receiving yards per game, which is nearly a full 10 yards ahead of the next-best number, 86.1, which belongs to first-ballot Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson. That’s darn impressive.
The Falcons have a few options to fill the Jones void. Calvin Ridley is expected to take the next step and become the bonafide No. 1 guy after a breakout season in 2020 and Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus should see a lot more snaps as well.
The team’s choice of uber-talented tight end/wideout hybrid Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 overall pick in April’s 2021 NFL draft also makes a lot more sense now that Jones is gone. The youngster will have a lot more opportunity to shine without the big wideout soaking up snaps and targets.