Julio Jones trade rumors heat up amid Falcons cap crunch

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Another day, another Julio Jones trade rumor.

The Falcons’ star receiver has been rumored to be on the trading block for weeks, with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first reporting the interest around the NFL Draft and NBC Sports’ Peter King following the report up in early May.

A new report in The Athletic confirmed the sentiment, while also laying out some harsh realities for the Falcons that got them to the point where they must consider trading the future Hall of Famer.

Atlanta is in a major cap crunch, even after cutting a number of veterans and restructuring quarterback Matt Ryan’s contract to push money into the future. According to Over The Cap, they are less than a half million dollars under the cap, and they have yet to sign any of their draft picks.

They likely will need around another $8 million to do so, and trading Julio Jones would free up the cap space they need to sign those picks, which include stud tight end prospect Kyle Pitts.

The Athletic reported that their only other option to free up cap space would be through defensive tackle Grady Jarrett’s contract, who is another one of the team’s best players. They could restructure him or give him an extension, but they already pushed money into the future with Ryan and GM Terry Fontenot would prefer not to add to it.

The report mentioned that the market for Jones’ services could be limited due to his $23 million cap hit and recent injury history, but that the Ravens, 49ers, Patriots, Colts and Chargers would all make sense as targets. Any trade would likely need to be a post-June 1 designation, as Jones’ cap hit can be split over two seasons after that point. The Falcons will be looking for a first-round pick, but may be unlikely to get it.

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