Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones sent the NFL world into a frenzy after confirming to “UNDISPUTED” host Shannon Sharpe on Monday, May 24 that he wants out of Atlanta. The bombshell update added fuel to the fire that has been weeks of trade speculation for what seems to be all 31 other fanbases — including the Kansas City Chiefs.
Whether general manager Brett Veach and company are seriously considering adding the All-Pro wideout is a different, more layered discussion. However, Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce offered his first reaction on the Jones storyline during an interview on ESPN’s “NFL Live” on Tuesday, May 25.
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“I’ll tell you what, I’m intrigued,” Kelce told hosts Laura Rutledge and Marcus Spears. “My eyes are open. I’m peeking at the headlines, seeing where he goes. Listen, that’s a game-changer. When you talk about guys that can make plays anywhere on the field, full route tree no matter where you put him, that’s a guy that changes the game and changes teams, so I’m interested to see where lands.”
Jones is coming off of a limited 2020 campaign in which he posted only 771 yards and three touchdowns on 51 receptions after missing seven games due to a lingering hamstring injury. Even still, the former sixth overall pick has compiled at least 1,198 yards and six touchdowns in seven of his 10 NFL seasons while battling through more than two dozen lower-body injuries since 2011.
Spears Pegs Chiefs & Ravens as ‘Great Fits’ for Jones
Kelce’s thoughts on Jones dovetailed with those of Spears, who earlier in the day on “NFL Live” directly named the Chiefs, along with the AFC rival Baltimore Ravens, as potentially “great fits” for the Falcons’ star playmaker.
“The bottom line is Julio has asked for a trade and he wants to go somewhere where he can win, so that’s all people need to know,” Spears said. “Beyond that, when we get on the field and start talking about football, there are destinations that I think are great fits for him. One being the Baltimore Ravens. The other? The Kansas City Chiefs. And yeah, I said it!
“Why wouldn’t they? I don’t know how the money situation works out and all of that. [ESPN co-host] Mina [Kimes] will tell you that they can’t do it because they cap sprung and all of that. But I’m telling you right now, we watched what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did stockpiling that amount of talent on the outside, giving Tom Brady all of those weapons. It would not shock me if Julio was in play for the Kansas City Chiefs.”
Later addressing his comments on the NFL salary cap and how it could impact the Chiefs’ chances, Spears was clear that he doesn’t view it as a major roadblock.
Kansas City would indeed need to work its salary cap magic in any deal to acquire the 32-year-old star, especially considering Atlanta currently lacks the necessary funds to sign its entire 2021 draft class. As such, the franchise is unlikely to take on another player in return for Jones. The 11-year veteran carries with him a $15.3 million base salary in 2021 (as well as $11.5 million salaries in both 2022 and 2023), north of the Chiefs’ $8.4 million in available cap space, per the NFLPA’s public report.
Falcons Seeking ‘Best Value,’ But Prefer Trade Within AFC
Reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Monday further detailed the sticky situation in Atlanta, with the latter clarifying that the Falcons front office agreed to listen to offers “a few months ago” after Jones requested a trade at that time.
In terms of potential destinations, it appears Jones’ most recent comments may have helped open some doors for his future.
“Falcons prefer not to trade Julio Jones in the NFC, but would do so for the right price. But now, with Jones wanting out of Atlanta, they are looking for the best value in either conference,” Schefter wrote on Twitter.
While Schefter also noted that the Falcons have asked interested clubs for a first-round draft pick in return, that compensation may not prove to be realistic considering the financial implications of a potential deal.
As of Monday, no NFL team had made a legitimate trade offer to the Falcons, sources told CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, who also reported that the asking price for Jones is not likely to be less than a second-round pick.
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!