By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, & Pranav Thiriveedhi
For the last decade, Julio Jones has been arguably the best wide receiver that we have ever seen play during that time, and for good reason. In his decade-long career so far, Julio has 12,896 receiving yards, 60 TDs, has been named an All-Pro twice, is a 7x Pro Bowler, has a Super Bowl appearance, and was named to the All-2010s Hall of Fame team. The only player with comparable stats to that is Antonio Brown, who if he had not been suspended over the past two seasons, would have better stats than him. The argument between whether Julio or AB is the better WR all-time and of the 2010s decade is a debate for another day, but with a superstar like Julio on the trading block, the speculation as to where he will end up goes through the roof. Here are our predictions of the best landing spots for Julio and where he should be traded to, now that he has officially declared that he wants out:
Saransh’s Prediction: Julio Reunites With Kyle Shanahan
The only problem the 49ers have is not that they do not have trade assets, but that they are in the NFC, and Atlanta would hate to trade Julio to a team they probably have to see once every 1-2 seasons. Then again, it is Julio Jones, and hearing out the trade would not hurt the Falcons. San Francisco is an interesting position, with $17.133M available in cap space, per Spotrac, but also able to free up cap space with a Jimmy Garoppolo trade/release, and movement of other players via trade. Julio Jones might not like the fact that he would have to play with a rookie QB in Trey Lance, but he would be surrounded by elite weapons like George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and a plethora of running backs, giving Julio a similar feel to what he had in Atlanta. He would also have the familiarity with Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, who was Julio & the Falcons’ Offensive Coordinator during the Falcons’ Super Bowl run. The 49ers have a defense that is built for a Super Bowl run and are rebuilding at QB, but the rest of the offense is just a piece away from being elite, and Julio can be that guy that helps them get back, and this time, win a Super Bowl.
Falcons Receive: 2022 2nd-Round Pick, 2022 3rd-Round Pick, FS Jimmie Ward, LB Samson Ebukam
49ers Receive: WR Julio Jones, 2022 5th-Round Pick
49ers Release: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (cap casualty)
49ers Sign: FS Tre Boston on 2-year, $10M deal (Jimmie Ward replacement)
Rohan’s Prediction: Julio Joins Henry, Brown, & Tannehill In Nashville
Tennessee has been very connected to superstar WR Julio Jones and he would be a massive upgrade to a team that desperately needs a receiver. The Titans lost 2 key offensive players this offseason: receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith. They added Josh Reynolds, but they need some pass-catches to fill in these holes so Julio makes a lot of sense. Also, Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown has recruited Julio Jones publicly with both of them making a pitch on Twitter, plus it seems that Julio does want to play in Nashville. The question is, can Tennessee afford Julio Jones? It is difficult but not impossible. Jones will carry a cap hit of about $23 million and the Titans have just $3.60 million remaining in cap space, so Tennessee would have to jump through a lot of hoops to make this happen. They would have to restructure contracts of their highest-paid players like quarterback Ryan Tannehill, tackle Taylor Lewan, and guard Rodger Saffold. The Titans are in win now mode and have to do whatever it takes to get a player like Julio Jones. They are right on the doorstep of being strong contenders for the title and Jones would put them over the hump.
Falcons Receive: 2022 2nd-Round pick, 2022 3rd-Round pick
Titans Receive: Julio Jones
Titans Restructure: Ryan Tannehill, Taylor Lewan
Pranav’s Prediction: Julio Joins Cam & Belichick in Foxborough
Julio Jones is not only a generational talent but is one of the best wide receivers to ever play in the National Football League. Aside from his national accolades, Julio is the face of Atlanta and an athlete that almost every kid looks up to. And now, the Atlanta Falcons, with the hope of becoming a younger team, have put the veteran super receiver on the trading block. It won’t be long before Julio is acquired by another team, and that team to look out for is the New England Patriots. Coach Bill Belichick is known for bringing in veteran superstar receivers into New England after an amazing playing career in their prior home. Take Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, Antonio Brown, and Josh Gordon for example. Sometimes it worked out for the Patriots, but most of the time it didn’t. So why would the Patriots want to bring in a big-name receiver, who would cost a lot, but not make much of a difference? Well, because of the Tom Brady factor. Tom Brady, who could use any wide receiver to do anything, is no longer on the team, so the Patriots and Belichick will have to rely on their two QBs: Cam Newton, a veteran with more to prove, and Mac Jones, a rookie yet to be tested. Unlike Brady, these quarterbacks would more likely than not need a lot of support on offense, so bringing in a veteran superhuman of a receiver such as Julio Jones into New England will beef up the receiving core and strengthen it, regardless of his age or healthiness.
Currently, the Patriots receiving core consists of the wide receivers:
Nelson Agholor, a speedy threat, is coming off a great season in Las Vegas, but still has a lot of trouble from his experience in Philadelphia. Next is Kendrick Bourne, a four-year depth chart receiver who has had a steady career in San Francisco. Returning from last season are Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry, who are both very young receivers who had average seasons with Cam Newton under center.
By bringing Julio Jones in, the Patriots would get a consistent receiver, mentor, and reliable target for the receiving core. But Julio Jones is a costly receiver, which is the real reason Atlanta wants to move on from him, as their cap hit would be through the roof if they were to keep the All-NFL superstar. The Patriots would not only have to make financial space for him, which would consist of a lot of restructuring and releasing but would have to give up a lot to get him in the trade.
Falcons Receive: 2022 2nd-Round Pick, 2023 2nd-Round Pick, LB Dont’a Hightower
Patriots Receive: WR Julio Jones, 2022 6th-Round Pick