Should The 49ers Trade For Julio Jones?
“I’m outta there.”
Three words that sent the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons, and the internet into a frenzy when Julio Jones told Shannon Sharpe on FS1’s “Undisputed” that he had no desire to return to the only place he’s called home during his 10-year NFL career.
Never mind the awkwardness of the interview, arguably the best receiver in the NFL over the last ten years is on the market. But at what cost? The Falcons allegedly want at least one first-round pick for Jones, but at age 32, coming off of an injury plagued season and with three years left on his deal at approximately $38 million, teams might think twice before sending out such a coveted asset.
Enter the San Francisco 49ers.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan has never made it a secret he’d like to reunite with Jones – whom Shanahan coached as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator in ‘15 and ‘16 – and with the team looking for a return to the Super Bowl, now could be the time the strike a deal for Jones.
The 49ers enter the season with their #1 and #2 WR positions currently locked up with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, however, finding that #3 receiver has been an adventure. A three-receiver set with Samuel, Aiyuk, and Jones would arguably be one of the best in the NFL, and from an asset standpoint, would probably cost San Francisco a future second-round pick and another future pick, possibly in the fourth or fifth round.
The catch (no pun intended)? The 49ers have roughly around $18 million in cap space that could carry over next season and be used to secure new deals for players Fred Warner, Raheem Mostert, and further down the line Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel. Jones would take approximately $15 million of that space this season, and would still be on the hook for approximately $23 million the following two seasons. General Manager John Lynch would have to play some cap gymnastics the next couple seasons to retain some of the aforementioned Niners assets.
Should the Niners be exploring a trade for Jones? They’d be crazy not to inquire, but with no first-round picks the next two seasons, the 49ers would have to be positive that Jones is the missing piece to a Super Bowl contender this season.