By Scott Bair | Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones is on his way to Tennessee.
The Falcons have agreed on terms of a trade that will send the seven-time Pro Bowler to the Tennessee Titans for a compensation package that includes a 2022 second-round NFL Draft pick, ending weeks of speculation about whether Jones would remain with the team that drafted him in 2011. All told, the Falcons will get a second-round pick next year and a 2023 fourth-round pick for Jones and a sixth-round pick in 2023.
In addition to the high draft pick and the 2023 selection, Sunday's trade comes after June 1, which changes the transaction's impact on the Falcons salary cap. It creates substantial 2021 salary-cap space and splits his cap hit to give the Falcons welcome relief over multiple seasons.
The trade ends Jones' Falcons tenure after 10 seasons, 12,896 yards, 60 touchdowns and two first-team All-Pro honors. Jones ranked high among NFL receivers during that prolonged period of elite play, where he helped the Falcons reach the playoffs four times.
While he may be gone, Jones won't be forgotten. His name will remain atop most franchise receiving records, and his exploits are etched into Falcons' lore. Jones going for 300 yards against Carolina in 2016, including a ball snatched from Luke Kuechley before heading into the end zone won't be forgotten. Nor will his incredible catch and run against Green Bay that helped Atlanta win the NFC championship. Those historic moments won't fade away.
The Falcons traded a ton to draft Jones a decade ago, but his production was well worth the up-front cost. Nothing lasts forever, though, and the Falcons are ready to move forward.
They'll do so with a quality receiver corps that should still produce without Jones in the pattern. Calvin Ridley's a top-tier player coming off a breakout year with 90 catches for 1,370 yards and nine touchdowns. He was especially productive when Jones was out with a hamstring strain, evidence that he's capable of being a true No. 1 receiver. Russell Gage proved himself as an emerging talent after recording nearly 800 yards last season. First-round draft pick Kyle Pitts has true superstar potential whether he lines up a tight end or farther out wide.
Quarterback Matt Ryan's captaincy and consistent production will be a steadying effect as the Falcons play without Jones.
The Falcons had to do that on the fly last year. Jones missed seven games due to injury during a 2020 season that fell below his lofty standard, one that now stands as his last in red and black.