The Los Angeles Rams loaded up at wide receiver during the offseason, drafting the speedy Tutu Atwell and the blue-collar Ben Skowronek while also adding veteran DeSean Jackson. But just when it looked like the Rams had their name attached to the Julio Jones trade talks, there has now been a change of heart from L.A.
Mike Garafalo of the NFL Network on May 28 first revealed the Rams as one of two teams that have had conversations with Atlanta about Jones. However, on May 30, Mike Florio of NBC’s Pro Football Talk reported the Rams are no longer in pursuit of the All-Pro wideout.
“The Falcons have been fielding offers and some of the teams we’ve heard about — the Titans, the Rams — yes, my understanding is those are two of the teams that have had conversations with Atlanta,” Garafalo told the NFL Network.
However, according to Florio’s report, “At a time when a list of teams potentially interested in Falcons receiver Julio Jones is growing, there’s one team that, per a source with knowledge of the dynamics, can be removed from the list. The Rams.”
What Jones Would’ve Brought to the Rams
Despite entering his 11th season in the league this fall, Jones would’ve added much-needed size to the Rams air attack given his 6-foot-4 frame.
Currently, the Rams’ tallest starting option at receiver is Cooper Kupp at 6-foot-2. Their second-leading wideout from last year, Robert Woods, stands at 6 feet. The Rams drafted the 6-foot-3 Skowronek in the seventh round, but he could be utilized as a hybrid tight end option especially in goal-line looks.
Snatching Jones via trade would have added to the list of impressive offseason moves the Rams have made in recent years: trading for Jalen Ramsey, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and recently Matthew Stafford.
While the 32-year-old perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver and 2016 NFC Champion Jones was an enticing pursuit for the Rams, especially given the franchise’s recent history of making aggressive trades and completing them, Garafolo stated that L.A. would have been in a dilemma if they had lured in Jones.
“The problem is, the Rams are really short on draft capital. They don’t have first-round picks for the next two years,” Garafolo said.
Florio stated that the Rams have salary cap issues that would have required restructuring to create some space.
What the Rams Faced
The Rams will wait until 2024 to be able to select a player in the first round. When the Rams lured in quarterback Stafford via trade, L.A. surrendered much more than former quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions: They sent their future 2022 and 2023 first-rounders to the Motor City along with a third-rounder through the recent 2021 draft. Atlanta has inquired about seeking a first-rounder in exchange for Jones, per ESPN’s Dianna Russini on May 27:
Acquiring Jones would have come at a significant price, too. The team that wins the Jones sweepstakes will have to acknowledge his $15.3 million salary in 2021, as well as his salaries of $11.5 million in each of the following two years. Plus, as loaded as the Rams are on the perimeter, L.A. would likely have had to send one or two starting receivers to the Falcons in exchange for Jones. Another possibility was trading a future second-rounder and restructuring the $12.6 million on Stafford’s contract to clear room for Jones.
However, both of the top Rams wide receivers in Kupp and Woods signed contract extensions in 2020 (Kupp’s extension stretches three years for $47.5 million while Woods’ deal was four years and $65 million). The Rams have 11 wide receivers currently on the 2021 roster with the new free-agent acquisition Jackson boasting the most experience at 14 seasons in the NFL.