The Atlanta Falcons' quest to trade Julio Jones continues in earnest. A move is likely to happen soon given that, if they trade Jones this week, they can spread his dead-cap hit (a hefty $40 million) over the next two seasons instead of eating it all in 2021. That was a constraint they had to worry about last week. Now that they're free of it, trade talks take on a more serious tone.
Jones is a difficult trade candidate because he is very good but has a huge contract and a history of injuries that causes hesitation for any team thinking about making a big investment. Atlanta is going to want to sell at the highest price possible here because they're trading a franchise cornerstone. Even if the man himself apparently wants out and it seems like the right time for both sides to move on given the rising young pass-catching talent on the team, the Falcons aren't going to settle for a fourth-round pick. They're going to ask for the moon and negotiate their way down from there.
Which doesn't make it any less insane when reports emerge detailing exactly what they want, as Yahoo!'s Charles Robinson did today in tandem with Josina Anderson. Atlanta's asking price is apparently at least a first-round pick. Ideally, the Falcons would also like a player or two in addition to the high pick.
Calling that "steep" is an understatement. That's an absurd price point. If Jones were guaranteed to be healthy and wouldn't count for over $20 million against his new team's cap sheet, I'd call it reasonable. But neither of those things are true.
There just isn't a team out there who will give up a first-round pick for a player who eats up that much cap space, much less a guy who played nine games last year, no matter how good he is. Especially a receiver. A great receiver changes the complexion of the defense but ultimately is only as valuable as the quarterback. The Colts, for example, make a lot of sense as a landing spot for Jones. But how can Chris Ballard possibly justify giving up a first-round pick and other players for a guy who may as well be useless if Carson Wentz can't get on the field? It's a massive investment that comes with a good chance of zero payoff.
This is how negotiating works, to an extent. The Falcons will refuse to be low-balled until they have no choice but to take a lesser offer, a possibility that grew far more likely after Jones' declaration that he was out of there on Undisputed last week. Until then, they're happy to see reporters get scoops and let other teams know that they shouldn't come to the table with a buy-low offer.
Will it work? Almost certainly not. If Jones wants out, the Falcons aren't going to hold him hostage because they can't get a Godfather offer. But if this strategy nets them even a slightly higher draft pick, it'll be worth it. How long it'll all take is another question entirely.