The Tennessee Titans pulled off a blockbuster trade for Julio Jones on Sunday, with the Titans and Falcons officially announcing the deal shortly after the initial reports. Tennessee is trading a 2022 second-round pick and 2023 fourth-round pick for Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick.
With Jones joining the Titans, they have built themselves a stacked roster. Last year, the offense consisted of Derrick Henry (over 2,000 rushing yards), A.J. Brown (over 1,000 receiving yards), and Ryan Tannehill, who finished the 2020 season with the best statistical year for a quarterback in Titans franchise history.
Furthermore, the offensive line is one of the best in the league, and the front office made aggressive maneuvers to improve the defense. It's safe to say the Titans are now favored to win the AFC South and could make a run as one of the best teams in the league.
Meanwhile, the Falcons have now finally moved on from Julio Jones after all the trade rumors. Jones spent 10 seasons in Atlanta and was arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL during his time there. However, salary cap issues and Jones' own desires resulted in this trade.
Here are grades for this blockbuster deal.
Titans Grade: A+
The Titans are acquiring the best receiver of this era. Julio Jones was a monster throughout his entire career playing for the Falcons. Jones struggled with injuries last season, but his career numbers are impressive, to say the least. Through 10 years in the league, Jones has racked up 848 receptions, 12,896 yards, and 60 touchdowns in the regular season. His career 64.2% catch percentage has made him one of the most consistent receivers in the game in the last 10 years.
Tennessee vastly improves its offense with this trade. A.J. Brown was already garnering special attention from opposing defenses, and Derrick Henry forces opponents to load the box. Now, with Jones lined up at receiver as well, defenses are going to be in fits whenever they face the Titans. Both Jones and Brown have to be double-teamed, but you need at least eight in the box to slow down Henry. Good luck to the league to figure out how to slow this team down.
The Titans didn't have to give up a first-round pick in the deal, so that's a plus. One slight negative with this trade is Jones' cap situation, with Tennessee taking on his $15.3 million in 2021 and then the rest of this deal. The Titans are already pushing the limits of their cap space, and Jones' contract does no favors in that area.
Even so, Tennessee will be able to move some money around to make this all work. Furthermore, the Titans have a much better cap situation in 2022 and 2023, which bodes well for the team's future success as well.
Falcons Grade: B+
The Falcons receive a B+ for the Julio Jones trade, mainly because they were unable to obtain the first-round pick they were looking for. Jones is 32 years old and dealt with those injury issues last season, so teams around the league just weren't willing to offer a first-round pick.
The good news is Atlanta was able to get that second-round pick while also getting the Titans to take on Jones' salary, in addition to getting a fourth-round pick. Giving up the sixth-round pick isn't too big a deal. The Falcons' future looks a bit brighter after this move as this franchise moves ahead into a new era. The second-round pick in 2022 should garner a solid prospect for Atlanta, increasing the odds of becoming a playoff-caliber team again down the road.
Look for the Falcons to make a ton of moves these next few years as they retool this roster with a new front office and head coach.