The Falcons have been listening to trade offers on Julio Jones for some time. Count the Patriots among those kicking the tires on acquiring the perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver.
New England has had internal discussions about Jones, NFL Network's Mike Giardi reported.
The dialogue could intensify for several teams as June 1 approaches. That's when Atlanta could save more than $15 million against the cap by releasing or trading the 32-year-old star. The latter option is obviously preferred, as Jones would figure to net a notable haul.
After all, he's still producing at an elite level. Jones had made first- or second-team All-Pro in five consecutive seasons prior to playing just nine games last year because of a hamstring injury. Despite the lingering ailment, he averaged 85.7 yards per game in 2020. (His career rate of 95.5 yards is the best in NFL history.) The otherwise-durable Jones averaged 1,564.66 yards per season from 2014-19.
Such production would play anywhere, of course. Inserting Jones into the Pats' depth chart would not only give them a true go-to target but presumably elevate the whole group into one of the league's better units. New England already revamped its receiving corps this offseason with the additions of Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry.
NFL Network's Steve Wyche reported earlier this week that the cap-strapped Falcons remain interested in moving Jones. But $15.3 million in guaranteed money for 2021 coupled with the draft capital it would cost to acquire him are two factors that could give certain teams pause on pursuing a deal.
It's a conversation many will likely have, with or without the Falcons, over the next two weeks.