With the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, and several other teams from around the league reportedly monitoring the Julio Jones situation down in Atlanta, there is one franchise, in particular, that might very well make the most sense for the longtime Falcons wide receiver.
With the Tennessee Titans playing in the AFC, as opposed to the NFC where the Falcons reside, plus the fact that the perennial playoff team has just about every attribute that the Pro Bowl pass-catcher seems to be looking for, a potential deal between these two sides continues to seem more and more likely.
While the Titans’ place in the AFC South bodes well for the Falcons, who are trying to keep Jones out of the NFC if at all possible, Tennessee also possesses another former Alabama Crimson Tide alumnus in All-Pro running back Derrick Henry, who was recently seen working out alongside Jones. Not only that, but the Titans have done a whole bunch of winning over the course of the last handful of seasons while even reaching the AFC Championship Game just a few seasons ago, something that Jones has made quite clear is at the top of his list of priorities.
Lastly, current Titans wide receiver AJ Brown is a well-documented fan of Jones and even sported his Falcons jersey to warm up in ahead of a game last season. With Brown wearing no. 11 in honor of Jones, the Pro Bowl wideout has already stated that he would give it up in a heartbeat if it meant bringing the Falcons standout to Nashville. Of course, there is also this video of Jones and Henry working out together.
Derrick Henry & Julio Jones working out together 👀#Titans
(Derrick Henry’s IG) pic.twitter.com/k41DyfF0Ll
— Wes on Broadway (@TitansDraftTape) May 22, 2021
This is simply too perfect of a situation for all three sides while the Titans can take a potential deal for Jones in one of two directions in terms of what the team would need to give up to the Falcons.
Trade Option #1: First Round Pick
The first option would be to trade the team’s first-round pick in either 2022, 2023, or 2024 to the Falcons in exchange for Jones. It was been widely reported that the Falcons are seeking a first round pick in exchange for Jones, though it remains to be seen as to whether or not Atlanta will actually get it. However, this is an easy way for the Titans to skip the line ahead of the aforementioned Patriots, Chargers, and others as Tennessee owns a first-rounder in each of the next three seasons. The Titans also own second round and third round picks in each of the next three NFL Drafts as well.
Because the Titans have remained in winnow mode for the last several seasons and with the trio of Henry, Brown and quarterback Ryan Tannehill all locked up for the foreseeable future, this should be a no-brainer for Tennessee. A first-rounder—and perhaps a bit more—for Jones would perhaps be overpaying by a little, but it would no doubt be worth it as Tennessee would immediately put together one of the scariest units in the entire league.
There is another way to ultimately bring Julio Jones from Atlanta to Nashville, though.
Trade Option #2: Kevin Byard plus picks
This option also features some future NFL Draft capital but it would likely allow the Titans to avoid giving up a first round pick—and perhaps even a second round pick. The Titans could add former All-Pro safety Kevin Byard to the mix in order to both shed salary cap space and a regressing player, who encountered by far the worst single-season effort of his NFL playing career in 2020-21.
As it stands today, the Falcons currently employ the tandem of Richie Grant and Erik Harris at the free safety position. Even as he continues to struggle immediately following some immense success at the beginning of his NFL tenure, Byard would be an upgrade from the aforementioned duo, which could give the Falcons defense some additional firepower and a true leader in the locker room.
The Titans defense was absolutely atrocious in 2020-21 and parted ways with fellow safety Kenny Vaccaro and cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Desmond King this past offseason. Somehow Byard survived the team’s defensive back purge despite being nearly unplayable at points last season. With an up-and-comer in Amani Hooker slated to take over for Vaccaro at strong safety, the Titans could easily replace the less than stellar play of Byard at free safety before the offseason comes to a close. Not only that, but the Titans added to their defensive secondary in a big way last month by way of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The addition of Julio Jones would unquestionably be worth parting ways with Byard for the Titans, and then some, but will the Falcons bite?