Falcons have to lie in the bed they made with the Julio Jones debacle
Do you remember that proposed SEC nightmare receiving corps for the Atlanta Falcons in the upcoming 2021 NFL season? Well, you can officially take that thought, roll it into a ball and high-arch it into the nearest trash can like a John Petty Jr. 3-pointer.
During an impromptu appearance on FOX Sports’ Undisputed, via phone call from co-host Shannon Sharpe, the greatest receiver in Falcons franchise history, Julio Jones, finally broke his silence on the trade talk surrounding him.
“I’m outta there,” said Jones, point blank.
Those three words drove a stake through the hearts of Falcons fans all over the world. Seven Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro nods and recognition on the 2010s All-Decade Team—the dirty bird that soared highest at his position will be flying elsewhere.
And for what reason?
The thought process behind trading Jones would have made sense if the Falcons drafted Justin Fields or Mac Jones with the fourth overall pick, but instead of a quarterback, they added another weapon for Matt Ryan with all-world tight end Kyle Pitts.
Ryan’s time in Atlanta is souring like last month’s milk, but there was hope that a star-studded receiving corps featuring Jones, Pitts and Calvin Ridley could rekindle the championship magic that had the team in Super Bowl contention four years ago. One last run before the axe dropped on the Ryan and Falcons marriage made all of the sense in the world before hitting the reboot button.
Well, it obviously didn’t make any sense to the Falcons, who have openly floated their legendary receiver on the trade block.
Maybe they’re drinking the 2017 Kool-Aid and still believe Ryan can take them to the Promised Land. Perhaps newly-hired general manager Terry Fontenot has some genius master plan that has yet to be revealed. Or, maybe the Falcons are stillpunch-drunk from blowing a 25-point lead at Super Bowl LI.
Jones, 32, isn’t getting any younger, but it’s ludicrous to act as if he’s a rapidly declining player. He made the Pro Bowl in 2019, and if not for an injury-plagued season, he might have made it again in 2020. Despite playing in only nine games, he still finished the year with 771 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
So Atlanta is essentially subtracting one great player and adding another, assuming Pitts even lives up to his draft stock. Another season of mediocrity and disappointment on tap for the 2021 Falcons—check.
Running Jones out of town makes even less sense when considering the Falcons share the same division with a real-life Benjamin Button in quarterback Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Drew Brees might have rode off into the sunset for the New Orleans Saints, but old man Tom is still throwing Hall of Fame balls to arguably the most loaded offense in NFL history.
Make it make sense, Atlanta.
It’s important to note that NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that Jones requested to be traded a few months ago. But even if that was the case, why would the Falcons add another tight end when they have so many other areas on the field to address? If anything, you’d think Pitts would serve as a trump card for them to potentially convince Jones to stay.
There’s no putting the toothpaste back into the tube with this mess.
Jones made one thing clear in his public phone conversation with Sharpe: He wants to go to a place where he can compete for a championship. That obviously wasn’t the case with him over the last few years in Atlanta.
And it certainly won’t be the case when he’s gone.