One of the NFL’s most prolific pass catchers is on the trading block, and the Rams are uniquely positioned to make a trade.
The Atlanta Falcons are looking to trade franchise wide receiver Julio Jones. Trading Jones is a significant signal that the franchise is heading towards a rebuild.
“I want out. And right now I want to win,” Jones told Shannon Sharp this morning on “Undisputed.”
But if he wants to win, he has a better chance in LA than going to Dallas, as previously speculated after wearing a Cowboy’s sweatshirt during a photo op with a fan. After trading for Matthew Stafford, the Rams shot up from playoff contenders to Super Bowl contenders. Especially looking at how good the NFC West got this offseason – adding Jones would further the Rams case.
The Rams are loaded with receivers that the Falcons would be interested in — making room for multiple trade options. The Rams are building for another Super Bowl run, and adding an elite receiver would help. Jones is the eighth-best receiver in the league, according to PFF rankings.
While missing about half of the season with a hamstring injury, Jones still managed to put up 771 yards on 51 receptions, good for 15.1 yards per reception.
The Rams will have to give up a lot to make the trade work, but Jones is worth it.
Trade Option 1: Cooper Kupp, Desean Jackson, and the 2024 First-Round Pick
Let’s start by saying every trade will most likely involve Cooper Kupp. PFF ranks Kupp at 18, and he’s arguably the Rams’ best receiver. This one makes the most sense for both teams. Kupp would add the receiving yards the Falcons would miss from Jones, and DeSean Jackson would replace Jones as the deep threat option. The first-round pick helps sweeten the deal on taking a chance on an aging and injury-prone Jackson.
The Rams would get a permanent deep threat option over DeSean Jackson. At the same time, Jones is coming back from his own injury. However, the potential upside of a 1,000-yard receiving season would propel the passing game forward. Jackson is coming off a hamstring strain, fractured ankle, and ankle sprain – Jones is only dealing with the hamstring. If the Rams are looking for a deep threat option, Jones would be a better fit while maintaining Woods and pushing Van Jefferson into a starting role.
Also, who better for Tutu Atwell to learn under as a deep threat receiver than Julio Jones? It’s also likely the Falcons could kick in a day three pick for good measure.
Trade Option 2: Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and a 2022 Second-Round Pick
Switching out Jackson for Van Jefferson might make the deal sweet enough to drop the draft pick from a first-round to a second-round. There are two reasons here. First, the Falcons still have Calvin Ridley, who can be Atlanta’s deep threat receiver. In his first three seasons, he’s averaged 1020 yards per season and 14.1 yards per reception.
Second, compared to Jackson, Jefferson is a young prospect with the potential to start for Atlanta. Jefferson has shown flashes of starter potential with the Rams, especially in the playoffs. Jefferson caught six of seven targets for 46 yards and a touchdown in the divisional round and, during the regular season, averaged 11.6 yards per reception. Trading a younger player could lower the draft pick to the second-round or the third-round, depending on the spot.
Trade Option 3: Trade Away Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp and Receive Either 2022 First or Second-Round Pick
This is a long shot and would not happen in a million years; however, it’s a calculation the Rams could make. While it seems like a lot to blow up the receiver core for Jones, he might be worth it. With Jones on the roster, the Rams can not support both Woods and Kupp, so an option would be to trade away the top two receivers. The only way for this to work is if Atlanta would part with next year’s first or second-round pick.
The Rams have the receiver capital to replace Woods and Kupp. Jones would step into the No. role; Tutu Atwell would play more like Woods in that he has the speed to run the jet sweeps, and Jefferson could play slot for Kupp. Also, since the Rams draft two additional receivers after Atwell in 2021, they’d still have good depth and room to grow and develop. That’s not even mentioning Jackson, who could permanently play punt and kickoff returner.
The Falcons could be inclined to do this deal even without the draft picks. Those are really to make sure they are putting the best package out there and negotiated. The Falcons would fill out the starting receiver lineup, which would only be Ridley if they trade away Jones. If the Falcons take this deal, their starting lineup would be Matt Ryan at quarterback; Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson at running back; Ridley, Woods, and Kupp at receiver and Kyle Pitts at tight end.
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