The Atlanta Falcons are in one of the most interesting positions as we approach the 2021 NFL Draft. With the No. 4 pick, the franchise can look to build around its existing core, including quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones, or it could look to take things in a new direction.
Both players have been the subject of speculation this offseason. It has ramped up for the 32-year old Jones this week, and in an interesting turn, the Falcons are not exactly denying it.
“We are in a difficult cap situation,” new Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said, when asked about a potential Jones trade. “That’s just the circumstance. It’s not a surprise for us, it’s the circumstance we’re in… So when teams call about any players, then we have to listen, we have to weigh it, and we have to determine what’s best for the organization.”
The Falcons are at less than $1 million in cap space, before the NFL Draft, after which it will need to free up space to sign picks. Don’t expect a deal to come in the next few days ahead of the NFL Draft, though. Because of salary cap considerations, a trade involving Julio Jones can’t go down until June 1.
"We are in a difficult cap situation. That's just the circumstance … When teams call about any players, we have to listen."
🚨NEW — #Falcons GM Terry Fontenot responds to multiple reports that the team is considering trading Julio Jones pic.twitter.com/DbD9KZgJyU
— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) April 27, 2021
“Obviously, that particular player, we hold him in high regard,” Fontenot continued. “He’s special, what he’s done and what he continues to do here. But we have to consider any player if it’s right for the team because we have to do what’s right for the organization.”
Peter King, who is one of the major media figures to float a potential Julio Jones trade, says that a deal could allow the Falcons to “split Jones’ cap charge between 2021 and 2022,” which could free up over $15 million on the cap this year, a significant figure.
Of course, he’s one of the greatest Atlanta Falcons of all time, so any move will have to be very calculated. We may get a hint at the direction the team will head in on Thursday when the NFL Draft begins. The Falcons are heavily connected to a few players: if it is Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or another playmaker, it looks like the team is gearing up for another run with the current core; if the team takes Atlanta-area native Justin Fields, or another quarterback, we’re probably going to see a rebuild over the next year or two, and a Jones trade makes plenty of sense.