Could Jones actually end up in the AFC North?
Julio Jones, the most consistently amazing receiver in the NFL since Calvin Johnson, could get traded shortly after the Draft.
In his recent mock draft, Peter King wrote that he would not be surprised if the Atlanta Falcons put together “the framework of a trade” that would involve future picks. Atlanta would try to make the trade effective on June 2 in order to split the cap hit, he writes, as the Falcons could reduce this year’s cap hit by a little over $15 million by doing so.
Of course, King notes, if they structure the trade as such, no picks from this year’s Draft can be involved. He mentioned the Las Vegas Raiders, the New England Patriots, the Tennessee Titans, and the Baltimore Ravens (no!) as potential landing spots.
Albert Breer also mentioned that the Falcons are taking calls on Jones.
In here, detail on how the @AtlantaFalcons got here, what it’ll take to pry Julio away—they’ve let teams know they can ask about any pricy player on the roster. Entertained calls on Jake Matthews, Deion Jones, eventually redid their contracts.
(Julio’s hasn’t been redone.) https://t.co/0Z2CD8zxa8
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 26, 2021
And then Ian Rapoport confirmed the above reports.
The #Falcons have received calls from teams inquiring about possible trades for All-Pro WR Julio Jones, sources say. A trade could not happen for cap reasons before June 1, but teams know Atlanta’s brutal cap situation and are calling. A deal won’t happen now, but later? Maybe.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 26, 2021
So what does all this mean for Cincinnati?
Well, it could go three ways:
- The Falcons decide to replace Jones’ production immediately and give quarterback Matt Ryan another (but much cheaper) top tier target as he enters the twilight of his career.
- They, as indicated in Breer’s tweet, are holding a fire sale and want to start over. That would mean they could end up drafting Ryan’s successor.
- The Falcons are just trying to free up some money, but not throwing in the towel yet. They might try to infuse the current roster with talent where it’s needed through the Draft. That could mean they want to beef up that o-line and take Penei Sewell.
If Atlanta does want a pass catcher, they could still go with tight end Kyle Pitts. But a Jones trade does increase the likelihood that they will look hard at Cincinnati’s apparent target, LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
If the Falcons want a quarterback, that means that the Bengals will have their choice of any player they want. Cincinnati already has Joe Burrow, and the three teams picking before Atlanta are all expected to draft quarterbacks.
Perhaps the biggest way this impacts Cincinnati is if somehow Jones was traded to someone in the AFC, or dare I even say the AFC North.
Not long after the news broke, Sports Line released odds for who the top contenders for Jones ‘could’ be if he’s traded.
The favorites? Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.
Julio Jones’ next team if he is traded by Atlanta:
— SportsLine (@SportsLine) April 26, 2021
The thought of Jackson and Jones in the same offense that’s already outscored Cincinnati 114-19 over the last three meetings. And after trading Orlando Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs for a first-round pick, Baltimore has more than enough ammo to get Jones if they really want him. Such a move would ensure the Ravens would be favored to win the AFC North next season and likely be among the top Super Bowl favorites.
At any rate, it’s a big deal when the team picking right before you takes an unexpected stance on a potential Hall of Famer just days before the Draft. We’ll find out how it all plays out on Thursday.
For more on the Bengals’ approach to the Draft, you can watch our recent discussion with The Enquirer’s Tyler Dragon:
You can also listen to our recent discussion of the new uniforms on iTunes or using the player below: