That's how special Jones is, and how important the wide receiver was to his team's offensive scheme. Is Matt Ryan good enough to lift the 1-4 Falcons back to respectability? Maybe, but this isn't a championship-caliber team.
News flash: They weren't one before Jones took that fateful step, either.
Which brings us to Tony Gonzalez. The NFL's answer to Mariano Rivera, Gonzalez came out of near-retirement for the sole reason of getting one final shot at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
"That's preposterous that Tony would be traded," Smith told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "He's an integral part of our offense and has been since he's been here. And he's having another Hall of Fame season."
Smith's not wrong about that last part. Gonzalez might be old enough to remember the first "Real World" season, but the man still can play. Ask Rex Ryan, a gifted defensive coach who had no idea how to cover the tight end Monday night.
But that's just another reason why Gonzo's gotta go.
Play along with me here: Let's say the Falcons split their next two games (home to Bucs, at Cardinals) and reach the Oct. 29 trade deadline at 2-5. Realistically, they'll need to go 7-2 down the stretch to even think about the playoffs. Their remaining schedule includes home games against the Seahawks and Saints and road trips to Green Bay and San Francisco.
Good luck with all that.
Now look at the Falcons' roster. The team needs significant upgrades to its offensive line and defensive front. Gonzalez won't be back next year and Roddy White isn't getting any younger. Does anybody remember Steven Jackson? General manager Thomas Dimitroff needs to identify and acquire difference-makers. More draft picks would help on that end.
If you dangled Gonzalez in front of a contender in need of a playmaker on offense -- think the Chiefs, the Patriots, the Ravens -- is it at least possible a GM would pull the trigger in exchange for a mid-round pick?
Yeah, yeah, this sounds insane. Gonzalez is a three-month rental at best, and would be tasked with learning a whole new playbook while attempting to find quarterback chemistry that took years to build with Ryan.
But the end game checks out. Gonzalez gets one last legit shot at February football. The Falcons get an additional chess piece at Radio City Music Hall. It's a trade steeped in logic. Which is why it will never happen.The "Around The League Podcast" is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.