The big NFL trade finally happened over the weekend, but it wasn’t Aaron Rodgers or DeShaun Watson. Instead, the Atlanta Falcons agreed to trade All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a second-round draft pick in 2022, along with a third-rounder and fourth-rounder in 2023.
Get ready for a dynamic duo in Tennessee with the arrival of Jones paired with wideout stud AJ Brown, who passed the 1,000 receiving yards threshold in the last two seasons.
The Titans won the AFC South division title last season. They went 11-5, which was their best season in well over a decade. Two seasons ago, the Titans advanced to the AFC Championship game.
|Julio Jones Trade Details
- Tennessee Titans: Julio Jones
- Atlanta Falcons: 2nd Round (2022), 4th Round (2023), 6th Round (2023)
The Titans were +3300 odds to win Super Bowl 56, according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. Now that they’ve acquired Jones, their Super Bowl odds have bumped to +2500.
After the Jones trade, the Titans are now +1200 odds to win the AFC Championship. In NFL divisional betting futures at DraftKings, the Titans and Indianapolis Colts are co-favorites to win the AFC South at +110 odds.
Deep threat Titans with Brown and JJ
If Jones remains healthy next season, the Titans will have the best WR tandem in the NFL. That’s in addition to Derrick Henry, who has been a beast in the ground attack for the past two seasons. In an era in which the NFL has become a pass-first league, the Titans retained their old-school vibe with a traditional running back like Henry. Of course, Henry carried a tremendous load over the last two seasons and everyone expects him to have a slight regression, making a healthy Jones a welcome addition to the squad.
“Excited to add Julio to the football team,” said Titans general manager Jon Robinson. “He’s excited to be part of what we’ve got going on in Nashville. It’s a big day for our team.”
Brown, 23, now has the perfect mentor with Jones, not that he needed it. In his first two seasons in the league out of Ole Miss, he caught 122 receptions for 19 touchdowns and 2,126 yards in 30 total games.
Meanwhile, Brown mini-trolled the Falcons with a funny tweet.
Please excuse my language when I say this “y’all done F*cked up “ pic.twitter.com/TbI4SrkTVp
— AJ Brown (@1kalwaysopen_) June 6, 2021
Titans and Falcons connection
The Titans lost offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who revamped their offense and helped rebuild the confidence of quarterback Ryan Tannenhill after Adam Gase nearly destroyed his career with the Miami Dolphins. The New York Jets wanted Smith to help out after they fired Gase following two disastrous seasons, but the Atlanta Falcons hired him instead.
The Falcons gained an offensive guru, but they lost a Hall of Fame wide receiver and one of the best in Atlanta’s franchise history. The Falcons were about to incur the largest cap hit out of any wide receiver in the league with Jones, who is due $23 million in 2021. The front office ditched their stud wideout due to a dire financial situation. They needed the cap space and made the miserly decision to let Jones go.
Pursuit of JJ
The Falcons didn’t want to trade Jones to another NFC team though there were plenty of interested parties, including every team in the NFC West. The Seattle Seahawks wanted Jones to placate the disgruntled Russell Wilson. However, the miserly Seahawks didn’t want to squander any draft capital, nor incur the massive cap hit.
The San Francisco 49ers and LA Rams seemed like logical landing spots for Jones; both teams needed a star receiver, but they’ve already leveraged their futures to acquire quarterbacks. The Rams gave up a score of draft picks in the Matthew Stafford trade with the Detroit Lions, while the 49ers coughed up a bunch of future picks to the Miami Dolphins in order to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 49ers selected QB Trey Lance with the third-overall pick.
That left a couple of AFC teams in the hunt for Jones, including the Titans and New England Patriots. The Atlanta Falcons are still reeling for blowing a 28-3 lead against the Pats in Super Bowl 51. Everyone in the state of Georgia was aghast at the possibility of trading one of their greatest players to the Evil Empire and Bill Belichick.
That meant the Titans were the logical choice. The Titans and Falcons finally worked out a trade for Jones. This was purely a money deal for the Falcons; so long as they dumped the salary, they were content. The Titans are on the hook for Jones’ full salary worth $23.05 million and they don’t have a lot of wiggle room with open cap space, which means they’ll have to renegotiate the contracts of Jones and Tannenhill.