“I’m Outta There Man” The Aftermath of The Julio Jones Trade By James Sampson
Image Credit via The Tennessean.com
Whether intentional or by accident, the world was informed Julio Jones wanted out of Atlanta during one of the most bizarre moments in sports history. On a live episode of "Undisputed," co-host Shannon Sharpe called the all-pro receiver on speakerphone and asked if he would stay in Atlanta. Jones responded by saying, "I'm outta there man," which sent the sports world into a frenzy.
After being heavily linked to the Patriots, it seemed like a match made in heaven. The Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and didn't have a true #1 receiver. The rumors were eerily reminiscent of the trade that brought Randy Moss to New England in 2007. Julio, like Moss, is an aging, unhappy superstar on the wrong side of 30 looking to compete for a Super Bowl. So after Belichick went berserk in free agency, it felt fitting that he would go all out and grab Julio Jones as the cherry on top. However, this was not the case, as the Titans came out of nowhere to snag the sure-handed receiver.
On June 6th, The Atlanta Falcons sent Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick. Along with the 7x pro bowler, the Titans received a 2023 sixth-round pick from the Falcons.
The 2020 season was a down year for Jones. The usually healthy wideout only played in 9 games last season. As a result, his numbers were down across the board. For the first time in 7 years, Jones failed to reach 1,000 yards. Headed into his 11th season, Jones will join his new team at the age of 32. He is certainly not young for an NFL player, especially a wide receiver. With that said, this is still a trade you make every time if you are the Titans. The price they gave up for a no doubt #1 wide receiver was unbelievable. For reference, a couple of years ago, the Patriots gave up a second-rounder for Jones's former teammate Muhammad Sanu. While Sanu has always been a solid receiver, he comes nowhere close to the hall of fame career Jones has made for himself.
The Titans have been competitive for a few years now but have yet to make a serious playoff run. Jones could be the missing piece needed to compete with the NFL powerhouses. With Jonnu Smith leaving in free agency, the Titans needed another big target, and Jones fits the bill. Brown and Jones lining up outside will free up the box for superstar running back Derrick Henry. Ryan Tannehill has revitalized his career in Tennesse, and acquiring Julio could push him to the next level. Defensive-minded head coach Mike Vrabel will cover up issues with the defense. The sky is the limit for the Titans next year, and the league will take notice.
For the first time in Jones's career, he won't suit up for the Falcons or wear the number 11. According to a tweet on AJ Brown's Twitter, Brown said, "#11 until I retire. I tried to give it up, and he wouldn't take it." So instead, Jones will wear the #2, which was previously unavailable for wide receivers. However, there is a new jersey policy in the NFL this year, which is less restricting.
This trade could potentially be a win-win for both teams. Julio wanted out, so the Falcons took what they could get. The Falcons can now see if Calvin Ridley has what it takes to be a #1 receiver. He has shown a ton of potential in his first few years. This trade will also free up more targets for the 4th pick of the draft, Kyle Pitts, who arguably is the best receiver in the draft even as a tight end. The Titans are in win-now mode, so acquiring a potential hall of fame receiver is a no-brainer. Look for AJ Brown and Tannehill to take a step forward next year, with Julio taking pressure off of both. Derrick Henry, who has been a workhorse the previous few years, will get more rest. Henry's rest will be vital for the playoffs, as the Titans became pretty predictable and one-dimensional last year, relying heavily on Henry. If Jones can bounce back and stay healthy, the Titans will take a significant step towards competing for a Super Bowl.