Julio Jones is “out” of Atlanta… or so he says.
While an exit from the Big Peach may not be so black-and-white, the Falcons‘ star wideout believes he’s officially run his course with the team that selected him No. 6 overall one decade ago.
“I’m out of there,” Jones told FS1’s Shannon Sharpe on Monday’s airing of Undisputed when asked if he wanted to remain in Atlanta. Jones also noted that he has no desire to play for the Dallas Cowboys, who ranks amongst the top-12 favorites to acquire Jones in a trade, via Draft Kings Sportsbook.
With Falcons and Jones appearing destined to cut ties and the Cowboys seemingly off the table, Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins continued onward with his relentless recruitment of bringing the seven-time Pro Bowler to the desert.
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Hopkins Continues to Recruit Jones to Cardinals
The Cardinals have had themselves quite the offseason. Putting aside savvy under the radar moves such as acquiring center Rodney Hudson from the Raiders, the team has made numerous splash acquisitions this summer; from inking Jones’ draft class-mate A.J. Green to signing future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt.
Hopkins would like to add yet another shoo-in HOFer to the mix.
The wideout took to Instagram shortly after Jones’ comments on FS1 to share a photo of himself Green and Jones posing with NFL legend Michael Irvin at a 2016 Pro Bowl practice. Hopkins captioned the photo: “Julio u remember what we talked about.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time Hopkins has put on his recruiting cap when it comes to Jones. The NFL’s third-leading receiver has been highly vocal in his willingness to help facilitate a move that would yield Arizona the league’s most vaunted receiving corps.
In a now-deleted tweet, Hopkins recently noted “Somebody at the gym asked me would I restructure my contract for Julio?” He then attached a gif of Neil Patrick Harris flashing two thumbs up.
How Arizona Can Free Up Cap Space for Julio
The Cards would undoubtedly need to move some money around — although pulling money out of Hopkins’ pockets may not be the best route.
The wideout’s base salary checks in at only $4.75 million this season. As Pro Football Talk highlighted, Hopkins could theoretically create up to $2.75 million in extra cap space if he were to take the minimum this season ($1.075 million), spreading the remaining $3.675 million over the balance of his deal. That would create $2.75 million in extra cap space, bumping Arizona’s available cap space to $16.28 million (per Over the Cap) — enough to stomach Jones’ 15.3 million base salary for this season. However, as insider Mike Florio noted, players such as Chandler Jones and D.J. Humphries have deals that far better cater to restructuring, with each able to create north of $13 million in cap savings.
In reality, landing Jones is likely a long shot for Arizona, although GM Steve Keim’s recent aggressiveness makes us reluctant to rule it out entirely. The Cardinals’ receiver room is getting a tad crowded. Alongside Hopkins and the aforementioned A.J. Green, the team also rosters notable players such as Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson and 2021 second-rounder Rondale Moore.
With that said, when you have a chance to acquire a player of Jones’ pedigree, you find a way to make room for him.
If the Cards were to team Hopkins up with Julio, that would give the team the NFL’s two highest-graded wide receivers since 2015 (via PFF) — a possibility that clearly has others in the league on their toes.
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