The Julio Jones-to-Tennessee Titans trade discussions don’t seem to be dying down anytime soon.
The 32-year-old receiver has seemingly been on his way out of Atlanta since the NFL season ended, and his remarks on Monday during an unknowing television appearance didn’t help matters any.
FS1’s Shannon Sharpe called Jones while live on the air and asked him if he was staying in Atlanta. Jones promptly replied, “I’m out of there.” Sharpe continued to probe Jones about which team he wanted to play for, and the seven-time Pro Bowler would only say that he wanted to win.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Jones had apparently requested a trade from the Falcons a few months ago and the team told him they would listen to any offers they received.
Pro Football Talk’s Chris Simms reported on Tuesday morning that Jones has his eyes on the Titans as well.
“I was told by someone that the Titans and the Patriots re very much on his radar,” Simms said. “That’s someone I trust that has a little knowledge in the matter.”
If that is truly the case, then the Titans make all the sense in the world as a landing spot for Jones, and there are several reasons why.
If Jones wants to win a championship before he hangs up his cleats, he’d be hard pressed to a find a better situation to do that than in Tennessee, which is built to win now.
The Titans ranked No. 2 in total offense last season. They have a top-10 quarterback and the best running back in football. Throw in A.J. Brown, who many experts are projecting to put up top-10 receiver numbers this season, and Tennessee has the makings of perhaps the most explosive offense in football.
Jones fits Tennessee’s offensive system like a glove and playing alongside Brown and Josh Reynolds would open up more of the field for him. Not to mention he wouldn’t have to shoulder the lion’s share of matchups against the opposing team’s top cornerback.
If Jones were to go to New England, sure, he’d instantly be the Patriots top wideout (no disrespect to Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor). But he’d also see far more double teams and much more pressure would be put on his shoulders to carry the load of the wide receiver group. Not to mention, Cam Newton isn’t leading the Pats to the Super Bowl anytime soon.
Atlanta may be shooting for the moon in asking for a first-round pick for Jones. However, of the teams reported to be interested in Jones – New England, Baltimore, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Miami – Tennessee could be the most willing to art with a first rounder. If the Titans are as good as they believe they are and they make a run at a Super Bowl with Jones, then losing a first rounder in the low 20s or early 30s might be a price worth paying. If not, then surrendering a second-round pick should be no problem for Jon Robinson.
Jones does carry a $15.1 million cap hit in 2021. The Titans, who have a little more than $3.5 million in cap space, would have to convert someone’s salary (Tannehill, Henry, Rodger Saffold, Taylor Lewan, etc.) into a bonus and move the payouts to the next two seasons. Tannehill makes the most logical sense and converting $23.5 million of his $29.5 million base salary into a bonus would bring his 2021 cap hit down nearly $15.6 million and open enough money for Jones.
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