Rumors are swirling from several sources that the Atlanta Falcons could be shopping future hall of famer Julio Jones. This is something that should only be taken as rumors, and not legit. After all, why would the team want to trade the best player in the organization's history?
It's hard to tell if these rumors have any credit to them, and to think that the organization would be willling to trade away the most important part of the offense is baffling. Jones is the greatest offensive weapon the Atlanta Falcons have ever had, and may ever have. He's played a vital role in the offense since coming into the league in 2011, racking up 848 receptions, almost 12,896 receiving yards, 60 touchdowns, and averaging an NFL record 95.5 yards per game. Aside from his stats, Jones plays a vital role in helping other guys get open because he gets double-teamed, especially in the redzone.
It's too big of a gamble to trade Jones.
Trading Jones would be a huge gamble and inevitable mistake.
Calvin Ridley is a great young receiver, but he hasn't proven to be a top star yet. Ridley doesn't have the consistency yet to draw double coverage. He also doesn't have the size and skillset to bully people like Jones. He is a great talent that will certainly help the Atlanta Falcons offense for years to come, but he isn't ready to take over the role of top receiver.
Another interesting aspect of this trade is rookie Kyle Pitts. Many believe he will be an elite tight end, but he hasn't played an NFL game yet and it would be foolish to think that Pitts could replace Jones as the offense's top weapon for Matt Ryan. Pitts certainly has the size and skillset to be a legitimate number one option on offense, but until he proves that, Jones should still be the number one guy and it is way too risky to put all of your cards on a rookie who hasn't seen live professional action yet. Also, Pitts is a tight end, not a receiver. He doesn't have the speed that Jones does in the open field.
If Jones is traded and taken out of the offense, the Falcons immediately become less imposing. Yes, Jones has dealt with some injuries throughout his career, but to think that he can't still perform at a high level because of last season would be a big lapse in judgement.
The Atlanta Falcons don't have a lot of cap space.
The trade "rumors" swirling around Jones seem to be almost entirely about cap space and the fact that the Atlanta Falcons don't have much. To end Jones's legendary career with the organization as a cap casualty would be the ultimate sign of disrespect. After everything he's done for the organization, it would be an unfortunate end to a legendary career.
If the rumors are true and the Atlanta Falcons are looking to trade Jones, then the team needs to at least compile a handful of first and second round picks. What Jones has meant to the team the last decade can't be understated, and the price to acquire him should be hefty.
The overall idea of trading Jones is confusing.
Why would you trade Jones after keeping Ryan and deciding that the team wouldn't enter a rebuild?
It would make no sense for this team for Jones to get traded. Clearly the idea entering the 2021 season is a "win now" mentatlity, but trading Jones shows the complete opposite mind set. Nothing the team gets for Jones would be good enough to replace him, so why bother?
Yes, the cap situation isn't great, but trading Jones would only cause more problems than it would help, mainly from an offensive production standpoint. The front office showed in the draft and off-season that the idea is to stick with Ryan for a couple more years at least, so why not stick with Jones for a couple more years as well. This isn't a team that is too far off from being a playoff-caliber team. The Atlanta Falcons could've won five to six more games last season if they could've just held on to leads and had better fourth quarter performances.
Jones can still help this team win, and they'll need him late in games as they learn how to finish teams off. On paper, the Atlanta Falcons have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL next season. This is a great opportunity to have a much needed bounce back season, and Jones can once again prove that he is the best receiver in the league.
It's important to point out that these are just rumors and nobody within the organization has said anything about trading the star receiver. He is a vital point of the offense and it really makes no sense. It would be a huge gamble to let him go, and most certainly would not got over well with the team or fans.
It would be best to go into the 2021 season with Jones still on the roster, letting him do what he does best. He should retire as a Falcon and enter the team's Ring of Honor as an all-time great, lifetime Falcon.