According to a recent report, Julio Jones’ interest in play for a contender isn’t the only thing he’s looking for now.
“Man, I’m out of there,” Jones said on live TV.
The Falcons now will have options to trade Jones before the start of the season as the June 1 mark has passed. Atlanta ideally will be looking for a first-round pick to move off the All-Pro receiver and face of the franchise, but it’s looking more and more likely they will settle for mid-round selections.
Currently, Atlanta does not have the funds to sign their 2021 draft class due to the salary cap. If Jones is traded or released, the team will save $15.3 million in space.
Going to a contender is one thing, but there’s also another asset Jones is looking at this free agency: arm strength. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the 32-year-old wants to work with a deep-ball thrower so he can be a vertical option once again.
Where could Jones land based off the report?
Based on the comments made by Fowler, several teams likely fit the bill for 2021. Both the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs have a need for another receiver and look to be the front-runners for the AFC title.
Josh Allen’s arm strength has been well-documented, but his accuracy has steadily improved from a 52.8 to a 69.2 in his first three seasons. As for Kansas City, they don’t need a receiver, but imagine having Tyreek Hill and Jones both as vertical options for Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid’s staff.
Then again, a combination of Jones, Stefon Diggs across the middle and Emmanuel Sanders in the short game might actually give Buffalo the edge.
The San Francisco 49ers have the cap space following the 2021 season to bring Jones in on his current contract. More than likely, Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starter for the season while rookie rocket-armed Trey Lance learns the ropes.
During the 2019 campaign, Garoppolo looked well connecting deep, leading the NFL in completion percentage (58.1) and yards per attempt (20.3) with a quarterback rating of 102.6 on throws over 20 yards.
The Seattle Seahawks have inquired on Jones to pair with D.K. Metcalf and Russell Wilson. According to Next Gen Stats, Wilson met or exceeded the league average on passes longer that 20 yards last fall.
The Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers also could be in play. As scouted by USA Today’s Doug Farrar, Ryan Tannehill was the No. 3 deep-ball passer in 2020. Justin Herbert finished top 10 in deep passes for 2020, recording 415 passing yards and five touchdowns on deep passes.
On the flip side, teams like the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots might be out on the conversation. Despite winning the MVP in 2019, Lamar Jackson has an average pass of 7.5 yards per attempt. The verdict is still out of rookie Mac Jones while Cam Newton suffered another setback passing during OTAs this past week.
Jones will have options under center if the right team calls. The question is, which team is willing to cough up the dough to bring the All-Pro to an offense ready to win now?