As reported by Kevin Eck of the Ravens media staff, the possibility of the Ravens’ making a trade with the Atlanta Falcons to acquire wide receiver Julio Jones is losing steam, but not entirely out of the question.
Julio Jones’ being on the trade block is making headlines again. And, yes, the Ravens are still being mentioned as a potential trade partner.
The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz reported that the Atlanta Falcons would like to trade the 32-year-old Jones because of salary-cap problems, and he named the Ravens as one of six teams that could be interested in the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.
When it was reported last month that teams were calling the Falcons about Jones’ availability, SportsLine.com had the Ravens as the favorites to acquire him.
That was a few days before the draft, however. After drafting wide receivers Rashod Bateman (in the first round) and Tylan Wallace (in the fourth), the Ravens’ wide receivers room has gotten crowded. That room also includes free-agent signing Sammy Watkins, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II.
There’s also the issue of how expensive Jones is. He carries a $23 million cap hit in 2021 and a nearly $20 million hit the following two seasons.
Russell Street Report capologist Brian McFarland came up with a scenario in which the Ravens could afford Jones (it involved restructuring several players’ contracts), but — again — that was before the team invested in Bateman and Wallace.
Here’s what a team acquiring Julio Jones in a trade would owe him on his current deal: 2021: $15.3M 2022: $11.513M 2023: $11.513M 3-years, $38.326M in total.
Jones has averaged 95.5 receiving yards per game in his career, by far the most in NFL history.
Although it seems highly unlikely that the Ravens would trade for Jones, they’re still being linked to him by the media.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec was asked to devise a hypothetical trade offer from the Ravens. His proposal has the Ravens sending a 2022 second-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick and Boykin to Atlanta.
“The Ravens are tight on cap space, and they wouldn’t be able to accommodate Jones without the Falcons eating some money and the receiver being willing to alter his contract,” Zrebiec wrote. “The Ravens also aren’t looking to put a ton of money onto future caps with quarterback Lamar Jackson awaiting a contract extension.”
Zrebiec also noted the Ravens’ crowded wide receivers room as a stumbling block, which is why he included Boykin in the offer.
“Given all of those factors, it would be easy to rule them out on Jones,” Zrebiec wrote. “Yet, fixing the receiver position has been an offseason obsession for [General Manager Eric] DeCosta, and Jones’ talent is enticing. Consider the Ravens an unlikely suitor, but don’t rule them out completely.”
USA Today’s Charles Curtis ranked the Ravens at No. 2 on his list of best landing spots for Jones.
“While this team would probably continue to run and run some more, wouldn’t having Jones change, like, everything?” Curtis wrote. “Jackson might want to get the ball into Jones’s hands a lot more. Brown might be a lot more open downfield. Any added attention to the receivers just opens things up for Jackson and the ground game. I love this idea. Do it, Eric DeCosta!”
Deadspin’s Jon Hoefling was much less enthusiastic about the Ravens being a good fit for Jones. Of the six teams Schultz mentioned as potential destinations (the 49ers, Patriots, Colts, Chargers, and Titans were the others), Hoefling put the Ravens at No. 5 in his rankings of teams who would benefit the most from adding Jones.
“Would Jones make Baltimore’s offense more dynamic? Oh yeah. It’d be fun to watch … for about four weeks,” Hoefling wrote. “Then when you realize that Julio has only had one game with eight or more targets and hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards in any, you’ll probably focus your attention elsewhere.”