The Atlanta Falcons will begin training camp this weekend, but will be without one of their staples of the last decade: wide receiver Julio Jones. The organization decided to trade the seven-time Pro Bowler to the Tennessee Titans this offseason to cut salary and will now be without their most consistent pass-catcher of the past few years.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank spoke the media ahead of the start of camp and was asked if he’d talked at all with Jones since the trade. His answer implied that he still isn’t happy with the way that the receiver’s departure went.
Blank revealed that he has not spoken with Jones since the deal with the Titans went through, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also expressed his disappointment that the 32-year-old receiver wanted to be traded after he was considered to be a “Falcon for life.”
Jones has suited up in Atlanta since he was drafted in the first-round in 2011, so Blank clearly felt like he would spend his entire career with the organization. But with the Falcons financial situation and the 32-year-old’s desire to win a championship, there was no compromise to be made. The Titans offered up a second-rounder and a fourth-round pick in 2023, which Atlanta accepted.
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) July 29, 2021
Jones labored in 2020 due to a series of injuries that greatly inhibited his output. He played in just nine games, hauling in 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. Still, he’s just a few years removed from being one of the top pass-catchers in the NFL, so he’ll surely factor into the Titans’ plans on offense in a major way.
Meanwhile, the Falcons will turn to Calvin Ridley to fill the hole left by Jones. He’ll be flanked by 2020 surprise Russell Gage and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts in Atlanta’s passing attack. Quarterback Matt Ryan may not have his top receiver anymore, but he will have a few reliable options to pick up the slack.