The Atlanta Falcons are in desperate need of salary cap space, and it is widely assumed that they are eventually going to create it by trading Julio Jones. Most teams don’t have the cap space to absorb the star wide receiver’s contract, but there are several to keep an eye on.
Jeff Schultz of The Athletic published a column on Thursday laying out in detail why the Falcons are likely to trade Jones. He noted that any team that acquires Jones would need enough cap space to absorb the 32-year-old’s $15.3 million salary. It would also make sense for the team to be a contender or a young team on the brink of contention. Schultz believes six teams — the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans — fit that description.
The Patriots are one of the most intriguing possibilities. They spent an enormous amount of money this offseason but still have roughly $15 million in cap space. While Bill Belichick tried to address New England’s need for skill players by signing star tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith and wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, Jones could really be a game-changer for Cam Newton and/or rookie Mac Jones.
Schultz was also told by sources that teams could seek to have the Falcons eat a portion of Jones’ salary, though that is not all that common in the NFL.
As it stands, the Falcons do not have enough cap space to sign their own draft picks. Jones’ cap number for 2021 is well above $20 million, and the team could save more than $15 million of that if he is traded post-June. There’s a reason we have heard numerous reports that Jones could be dealt before training camp.
Jones was limited to nine games last season due to injury, catching 51 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns.