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What does the future hold for the Falcons and Julio Jones?

Will one of the greatest wide receivers of all time finish his career in Atlanta?

NFL: DEC 06 Saints at Falcons Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We previously asked this same question about franchise QB Matt Ryan and now it’s time to consider the greatest receiver to ever put on a Falcons jersey: Julio Jones. He turns 32 this year and for the first time since his third year in the league, Julio was unable to play in 14 or more games. His 9 games in 2020 was his second lowest total since the 5 he played in that injury season of 2013. Let’s take a look at the potential options on the table for the Falcons and their all-time great receiver.

Julio retires a Falcon

We’ll start with the sentimental, if not the least likely of options. Julio’s current contract expires after the 2023 season. That would mean he’d play for 3 more seasons and retired at the ripe old age of 34. His biggest remaining cap hit is actually going to hit in 2021, at just over 23 million. His 2022 and 2023 numbers will put him at 19.2 million. While that seems like a lot, it’s not an unreasonable amount if his productivity stays close to his career numbers.

Additionally, Julio may decide to hang it up before then, perhaps retiring as soon as before the 2022 season, making the choice on his own. Either way, Julio never dons another jersey other than the red and black and he goes out on his terms.

Julio is traded before the 2021 season

This option seems to be gaining steam in some circles. Many people see the emergence of Calvin Ridley as a door to move on from Julio while he still has some trade value. Granted, his 2020 season likely hurt whatever compensation Atlanta could hope for, but there’s every reason to believe a team hurting at the position could see value in the all-time stud. His salary cap situation makes this a possible move, though the team would carry a lot of dead money in 2021 and possibly 2022 to make this happen.

For a new GM and coach, this option may make a lot of sense, since it’s clear that Julio won’t be in their long-term vision for the team. Getting draft capital for him while they look to rebuild or retool the roster may be hard to pass up.

Julio is cut before the end of his contract

If Julio’s trade value just isn’t high enough (anything south of a 3rd round pick would seem wasteful), the team may opt to keep him in 2021 while they rebuild around the aging veteran. After that point, cutting him prior to the 2022 season could free up substantial cap space and give them options in free agency that they likely won’t have this year. It would be frustrating to see, but the NFL can be cold and cruel - even to future hall of famers.

What do you think will happen

Poll

Julio future - what you think

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Julio retires a Falcons
    (1178 votes)
  • 39%
    Julio is traded
    (850 votes)
  • 5%
    Julio is cut
    (107 votes)
2135 votes total Vote Now

What do you want to happen

Poll

Julio future - what you want

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Julio retires a Falcon
    (1111 votes)
  • 24%
    Julio is traded
    (373 votes)
  • 1%
    Julio is cut
    (28 votes)
1512 votes total Vote Now