After months upon months of trade rumors surrounding the Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones, there was still uncertainty as to if the rumors were true, or just simply rumors. Well, Julio made his future with the Falcons very clear on May 24th during a phone call with Shannon Sharpe on his well-known show with Skip Bayless, Undisputed. Sharpe asked the former All-Pro receiver if he "wanted to stay in Atlanta." As for Julio's response, he said "I'm outta there." It's unclear if Jones was aware that he was on live TV when he took the phone call, but regardless, this must hurt for Falcons fans. However, Julio's desired departure is easy to understand. Jones is now thirty-two years old and is coming off of a season in which he was continuously plagued by injuries and appeared in only nine games. Furthermore, the Falcons were also one of the worst teams in the league last year. Although the Super Bowl window is most likely closed for the Falcons, Jones is still one of the best receivers in the game when healthy and is hungry to add a Super Bowl to his hall-of-fame resume. Jones wants out of Atlanta and to go to a Super Bowl contender. Thus being said, here are the top five destinations for Julio Jones.
1. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have one of the most productive rushing attacks in the league, but their passing offense has been essentially mediocre as they ranked last in pass yards per game (171.9) a season ago. The Ravens know they need more weapons for Lamar Jackson to boost the passing game. As they’ve used two first-round picks on wide receivers in the past three years. However, even with the receivers they drafted and the free-agent signing of Sammy Watkins, the Ravens won’t see the wanted boost in pass production right away. Thus being said, the Ravens should be willing to give up a few drafts picks and potentially a younger player for the former All-Pro receiver. Adding Jones to a receiving corps that includes Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews, and rookie wideout Rashad Bateman would create an offense that would give defensive coordinators nightmares. Combine that with the talented defense of Baltimore, they would be further solidifying their status as contenders.
2. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee's superstars A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry have been very vocal about their desire to add Julio Jones to their roster. A.J. Brown has been a long-time fan of Julio Jones and has even said he would give up the number eleven for Jones upon his potential arrival in Tennessee. Tennessee is another team that desperately needs help at receiver. After an offseason in which the Titans lost three of their top five receivers. The potential tandem of Julio Jones and A.J. Brown alongside the 2020 rushing king, Derrick Henry is a scary offense to think about having to stop. Especially for the weak run defenses in the AFC South.
3. Green Bay Packers
A trade for Julio Jones would give the Packers arguably the most dangerous wide receiver duo of all time with Davante Adams and Julio Jones. Aaron Rodgers has been very vocal for the last few seasons that he would like another receiving threat on the roster, and now with Rodgers’ frustrations with the front office publicized, what better way to make one of the greatest QBs of all time happy, than by adding a future hall of fame receiver. The Packers saw an extreme drop-off in receptions last season between Davante Adams and every other receiver on the roster. As the second leading wide receiver for the Packers had eighty-two fewer receptions than Adams. Robert Tonyan seems to be the long-term answer at tight end for the Packers as he recorded career highs in every category a season ago. However, the production they could see from Tonyan in the future won’t make up for the lack of production from the other receivers on the team.
4. New England Patriots
The Patriots had an overhaul in free agency on receiving threats as they signed tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, as well as receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, but Julio Jones would provide a true wide receiver one that would provide a punch for one of the league’s worst passing offenses a season ago. The Patriots may not be considered a “contender” by most, but if Bill Belichick had the opportunity to coach a player of Julio Jones’ talent I do not doubt that Bellichick and the Patriots defense would find a way to get into the playoffs. No matter if it’s Cam Newton or Mac Jones under center in New England.
5. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers saw the first big step in the development of Brandon Aiyuk. After a season full of injuries for San Francisco, it might be surprising that they're in the running for a star-wideout that has dealt with a plethora of injuries in his career. But Jones is clearly worth the investment judging by his on-field production. The 49ers are obvious contenders when healthy because of their dominant defense and rushing offense. However, consistent injuries at Quarterback have caused underwhelming performances by the receivers of the 49ers over the years. Adding Jones to the offense solves a talent problem at receiver for San Francisco, but not the talent problem at QB. The 49ers are still not sold on Jimmy Garrapolo and are taking a chance with number three overall pick Trey Lance, so the addition of Jones would also go a long way for the development of the North Dakota State product, once he becomes the starter.
*All stats were from ESPN Stats & Info. Department and TeamRankings.com