Julio Jones
(Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Julio Jones: Top Trade Destinations For The Star WR In 2021.

Julio Jones is officially on the trading block. I never thought I would be saying that, but times are changing, and the move makes sense from Atlanta’s point of view. Jones is a $23.05M cap hit in 2021 with a base salary of $15.5M. Atlanta is in cap hell this season with only $410,351 available and with Matt Ryan being the fifth-highest cap hit in the NFL, they need to free up some money. If a deal is going to be done it will be after June 1st as the cap hit isn’t nearly as much. Additionally, the Falcons just drafted, one of the best tight end prospects we have ever seen in Kyle Pitts. With Calvin Ridley and Pitts, I think the Falcons can afford to deal Jones without giving up that much offensive production. Several trade candidates have both the cap space and assets to trade for Jones. With that being said, these are the best trade destinations for Julio Jones for the 2021 season.

Indianapolis Colts

Available Cap Space 2021: $20.46M

Available Cap Space 2022: $77.85M

Possible Trade Package: CB Kenny Moore, 2022 2nd round pick

The Colts had a great season with Phillips Rivers, in which we won 11 games and almost upset the Bills in the playoffs. They traded for Carson Wentz in the offseason and added him to an already loaded offense. The Colts have a top-five offensive line in the league, two young offensive stars in Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. as well as a great defense. Additionally, TY Hilton is old and expensive and didn’t look like himself in 2020. The Falcons offense is more than capable of being explosive but their defense year in and year out is what holds them back. Kenny Moore will come to be a starter on the Falcons defense from day 1 and will provide some much-needed help in the secondary for Atlanta.

New England Patriots

Available Cap Space 2021: $15.97M

Available Cap Space 2022: $24.56M

Possible Trade Package: CB Stephon Gilmore, 2022 3rd round pick.

The Patriots felt the effects of not having Tom Brady in 2020. Cam Newton was off to a good start last season until he got COVID before Week 4 and was never the same after that. All the blame does not belong to Cam, the Patriots had the least dynamic receiving corp and tight end group in the league and it showed in free agency. The Patriots went on an unusual spending spree signing guys like Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne. Belichick admitted he whiffed on drafting offensive skill players the past couple of drafts and he just went out and bought talent. Why not continue the spending spree and go get Julio Jones? Normally I wouldn’t advise trading your best cornerback and the 2019 DPOY but the Patriots have shown an ability to draft and develop secondary well. Additionally, with the emergence of J.C. Jackson and a $16.24M cap hit in 2021, I think the Pats can afford to deal Gilmore. Finally, I’ve heard many reports that Julio Jones has expressed he wants to play with Cam.

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San Francisco 49ers

Available Cap Space 2021: $17.66M

Available Cap Space 2022: $9.385M

Possible Trade Package: LB Fred Werner, 2022 3rd round pick

I don’t know if the 49ers necessarily need Jones but why not. Additionally, with Trey Lance taking the keys to this offense next year why not get the young QB all the weapons they can get. An offense with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Ayiuk, and Julio Jones with Kyle Shanahan calling plays is a nightmare for opposing defenses. 2021 is Jimmy Garappolo last year on the 49ers, I don’t care if he wins the Super Bowl and an MVP, you just traded three first-round picks for Trey Lance. The 49ers have the cap to take on Jones’s contract in 2021 but the money gets pretty thin in 2022. However, the 49ers have the greatest asset in the NFL, a young QB on a rookie deal where you can pay a high price for other positions. Get Jimmy out of there next season, save nearly $25M and sign Jones to a deal.

Baltimore Ravens

Available Cap Space 2021: $9.77M

Available Cap Space 2022: $35.40M

Possible Trade Package: CB Marcus Peters, LB Chris Board, 2022 3rd round pick

I think Ravens fans can agree that Hollywood Brown is not the guy he was at Oklahoma. I like signing Sammy Watkins and drafting receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round but similar to New England, they don’t have an elite WR #1. Lamar Jackson took a step back in 2020 in major passing statistics but I think Lamar will be a quarterback in this league for a long time. Adding Jones, to an offense with Brown, Watkins, Bateman, and Mark Andrews coupled with an elite running game with Jackson and J.K Dobbins could be a scary sight. 2021 will be Jackson’s last year on his rookie deal and will get a long-term extension but why rush it. That contract is so valuable and with Jackson being a first-round pick Baltimore can exercise a fifth-year option for Lamar, another two years of a rookie contract could be just enough cap space to take on Jones’s contract.

Los Angeles Chargers

Available Cap Space 2021: $20.45M

Available Cap Space 2022: $46.78M

Possible Trade Package: CB Chris Harris Jr., 2022 2nd round pick

Chargers fans, although it may only be five of you, I am happy for your franchise. Justin Herbert looked like an absolute stud in his rookie season, Derwin James comes back from injury and you have star players on both sides of the ball in Keenan Allen and Joey Bosa. I have questions about head coach Brandon Staley but if Sean McVay swears by the guy, he’s probably going to be good. Like the 49ers and Trey Lance, the Chargers have three more years of Herbert’s rookie contract and need to maximize the star power around the young quarterback. The Chargers lost Hunter Henry to the Patriots in free agency and could replace the tight end’s production by bringing in Jones. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Julio Jones catching balls from Herbert could prove to be the best wide receiving corp in the league. Chris Harris Jr. is a fine player but he has a pretty big cap hit the next couple years and they drafted Assante Samuel Jr. who could start at corner from day one.

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