The Falcons traded Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick to Tennesse and received a 2022 second-round and 2023 fourth-round pick in return.
Was this a fair trade? Head coach Arthur Smith appeared on “The Chris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman” and detailed the trade made sense, calling it a “win-win.”
“Once (Falcons GM) Terry (Fontenot) and I got started down there, the situation, I mean the reality we knew the issue with the cap, and then obviously, the cap went down this year. Coming off the bizarre year, you’re dealing with a pandemic, the cap actually shrunk. So, we knew there was going to be some big decisions we’d have to make coming up, and so in a way everything worked out, we feel pretty good. I mean, I think it’s pretty much well-documented now, we feel like it was a win-win with the salary cap and Julio going to Tennessee, and us right now being able to solve our short-term issue with the cap. And we still got some other moves down the line you’re going to have to address. But I feel really good about where we’re at right now and going into the summer.”
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Jones Wanted Out for Two Years
Some analysts, fans, and coaches will argue that the Falcons had an “unfair” trade, but at the end of the day it all makes sense as to why it went down exactly the way it did.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer revealed some truths behind the trade that “dummies” it down.
To start, Julio Jones wanted out. In fact, he wanted out two years ago when he requested a trade under former head coach Dan Quinn and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff. Instead, he signed a $66 million dollar contract extension. This deal would later (ta-da) come to haunt the franchise’s salary cap.
Once Quinn was fired, Jones went to the head coach-GM duo, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith, before the 2021 NFL Draft to request a trade again. They honored Jones’s request and took calls from various teams. Initially, the Falcons were asking for a first-round pick and while several false reports said there was one on the table, Breer confirmed there was never a first-round offer made.
The Titans were the only team serious about the trade and the only team in the mix that could afford to pay Jones more if he performs well this season.
Jones Opens Up About the Trade
Atlanta trading Jones was bound to happen eventually and in the works for two years. This offseason, despite a coaching change, was the time to make the move since the Falcons were officially in cap “hell.”
The Falcons were the last team to sign their 2021 rookie class, but the trade freed up the cap space need to do so.
Jones recently opened up about the mutual departure.
“Yeah, that’s me and the Falcons we have an agreement at the end of the day,” Jones said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We discussed everything. We just made the decision. It was just cut and dry. There was nothing toward football. It’s business. So, you just had to accept whatever happens, happens. Like I said, it was a mutual agreement on it. We just split up.”
Jones said the trade was not easy for him and thanked the Falcons for giving him the opportunity to showcase his talent, but it was time to move on.
“Being here at the Titans, I love it,” Jones said. “I’m very excited to be a part of this organization. Just the team camaraderie, just the whole atmosphere and everything here, just feels like when I was in college at the University of Alabama. It’s amazing here. That’s where I’m at right now. Had a great day today. Just finishing the workout. I’m excited about being here.”
Jones leaves Atlanta behind as the Falcons’ franchise leader in receptions (848), receiving yards (12,896) and yards per game (95.5). With 10 years of experience, Jones has recorded 848 catches, 12,896 yards, 60 touchdowns and 15.2 yards per catch.