While Cleveland conveniently (for Atlanta) traded down from the sixth spot in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Falcons knew what they had waiting for them in the Browns’ stead. Former Alabama standout Julio Jones was taken with that sixth overall pick. After amassing 60 touchdowns and nearly 13,000 receiving yards in his decade-long career, Jones has continued to be a regular on highlight reels and an ongoing threat to opposing defensive backs. Nevertheless, Jones, now 32 years old, is getting up there in both cost and pro athlete age and rumors have begun to swirl that the Falcons are looking to deal him.
While the Browns are fairly well set at the wide receiver position, Andrew Berry, like any good GM, likely has his ear to the ground and is willing to listen to offers…or propose one. While this is far from official, it’s worth looking at the prospect of trading for Jones. The next step in the process is who would Cleveland be willing to give up in a deal with Atlanta?
Odell Beckham Jr. for Julio Jones. Straight up. No future picks. No compensatory financials.
Just Beckham for Jones.
First, let’s look at the pros for the Browns in this potential trade. OBJ is coming off of a torn ACL. This may not even be an issue for him, but it always raises questions on how an athlete will perform in their return from such a catastrophic injury. Then there exists the bigger concern, Beckham’s overall vocal distraction. His demand to get the ball often seemed to detour Baker’s focus from seeing the field, knowing Beckham would be barking in his ear post-game. Jones has kept quiet in comparison to Beckham and his gravitational pull of the spotlight, specifically off the field. A less quiet talent in the wideout role would be welcomed.
Now for the cons in the deal for Cleveland. Jones is four years’ senior to Beckham. Not everyone is drinking from the Fountain of Youth like Tom Brady. At 32, Jones isn’t going to run routes like he used to. Next is the payroll issue of taking on Jones’ contract. Right now, Beckham makes about $15.7 million a year, whereas Jones is owed significantly more for the upcoming season. According to ProFootballNetwork.com, “…on May 20, Jones’ contract is due to count $23.1 million against the Falcons’ salary cap.” If it counts against the Falcons’ salary cap, it’s going to count against a trade partner’s cap.
With the number of moves the Browns have made this offseason and new contracts due for Baker and Nick Chubb after the 2021 season, it is highly unlikely Berry and company would make such a deal. Still, the temptation of bringing in Jones to the Browns squad is a tantalizing concept if anything. After all, how many of us really thought OBJ would ever get traded to Cleveland?