Julio Jones gave the Atlanta Falcons a decade of dominance. They returned the favor by honoring his trade request.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Falcons have agreed to send their star wideout to the Titans, along with a 2023 sixth-round pick, in exchange for 2022 second-round and 2023 fourth-round selections. Tennessee will take on all of Jones’ $15.3 million salary for 2021 and the remaining two years on his deal, while the Falcons assume a $7.75 million dead cap hit, Rapoport added. Shedding his larger number allows them to sign all of their draft picks.
Of course, it also gives the Titans one of the premier players in the game. After several weeks of speculation, Jones is getting his wish. And so is A.J. Brown. Tennessee’s young wide receiver has been recruiting his “idol” for weeks, privately and through social media, going so far as to offer Jones his No. 11. Brown soon recanted after being told he couldn’t have No. 1, which has been retired for Hall of Famer Warren Moon.
The Titans now add another a future Hall of Famer in Jones. The seven-time Pro Bowler has been the league’s most prolific receiver over the past 10 seasons — and almost any 10 seasons. His recent play doesn’t suggest he’s in decline, either. He’d made five consecutive All-Pro teams prior to laboring through a 2020 campaign on a strained hamstring. Despite appearing in just nine games, Jones still collected 51 catches for 771 yards, his 15.1 yards per catch right in line with his career average (15.2).
He leaves Atlanta with a plethora of franchise and NFL records on his resume, including receiving yards per game (95.5). He’ll arrive in Tennessee as a fascinating piece in what could be a championship puzzle. The Titans are defending AFC South champs and just one year removed from a conference title game appearance. But their early exit in last year’s playoffs combined with key defections — Arthur Smith shedding his offensive coordinator duties to become the Falcons’ coach is tops among them — altered outside expectations for Tennessee.
Adding Jones, as Atlanta could attest after selecting him in the first round of the 2011 draft, immediately changes the narrative. The 32-year-old would appear to be an ideal fit alongside Ryan Tannehill, who was again one of the league’s most efficient downfield passers last year. That figures to be a more prominent tactic for the Titans moving forward given the 1-2 punch with Brown and the workload Derrick Henry has had to carry the past two years.