Julio Jones is officially on the trade block. News from earlier this week revealed that the Atlanta Falcons are actively trying to trade their superstar wideout to help alleviate their rather significant cap space problems. The Athletic's Falcons reporter, Jeff Schultz, rattled off a few teams that would make sense as trade partners, and the New England Patriots were mentioned.
Of course the Patriots are mentioned. They're always rumored to be in the running for any decent player that hits the trade market because Bill Belichick has found a lot of success with that strategy and New England has been eternally in a state of making win-now moves. NFL Network's Michael Girardi threw some gas on the whole fire on Saturday by reporting the Pats have had internal discussions about the All-Pro receiver.
The Patriots are one of the few teams who could eat Jones' $20 million cap hit this season without much trouble and have both the means and motivation to trade for him. New England overhauled their pass-catchers after last year's catastrophe but the receiver depth chart is not exactly intimidating; Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers will make up the top three wideout spots on the depth chart.
Getting Jones would obviously be a massive upgrade. Part of the reason Cam Newton was so bad last year was because he had no quality receivers and Jones would almost certainly result in a huge boost to Newton's passing numbers. It would give the Patriots one of the most dangerous offenses in the AFC and an even better chance at reclaiming the division title from the Bills. If Mac Jones beats out Newton, it's hard to imagine a better receiver to help make that adjustment period easy.
The question is how much the Falcons want. Belichick spent a lot of money on guys to catch footballs this offseason already. He's not giving up a second or even a third-round pick for Jones and his contract, no matter how good he is. But if the Falcons were willing to part with him for some lower picks down, the line, discussions could be had.
No Jones trade will take place until after June 2, when the Falcons can spread out his dead cap hit over two seasons instead of eating nearly $40 million in 2021. For now, keep an eye on New England.