The Atlanta Falcons are trading Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans, finally marking the next chapter in the career of arguably the top pass catcher of his generation. But the Falcons aren’t the first team to deal a big-name wideout in recent years, and the Titans aren’t the first to land one. As important as No. 1 receivers can be in today’s pass-first league, we have a sizable sample size of notable wide receiver swaps over the last half-decade. How, exactly, does the Jones deal stack up in terms of compensation with other moves?
Here’s a look at the biggest WR deals of the last five years, with the floor for inclusion being at least a fourth-round draft pick as net compensation:
2021Titans acquire Julio Jones, 2023 sixth from Falcons for 2022 second, 2023 fourth
Jones’ numbers have dipped for a few years, and he wasn’t healthy for much of 2020. But those numbers are still better than most, and Julio’s physical attributes alone ensure he’ll maintain a Pro Bowl-caliber floor if he’s on the field. The Falcons would’ve looked better if they’d also moved Matt Ryan to go all in on a rebuild. The Titans, meanwhile, get one of the game’s most imposing 1-2 pairings with Jones set to line up opposite A.J. Brown. The question is: Will his presence be enough to get Tennessee over the hump?
2020Cardinals acquire DeAndre Hopkins, 2020 fourth from Texans for RB David Johnson, 2020 second, 2021 fourth
Everyone knew who won this deal the moment it was made. Hopkins may not be able to single-handedly cover up Kliff Kingsbury’s in-game coaching, but he sure as heck comes close. There are few target machines with as much deep- and jump-ball ability, and Arizona got him for literal scraps in the grand scheme of things.
Bills acquire Stefon Diggs, 2020 seventh from Vikings for 2020 first, 2020 fifth, 2020 sixth and 2021 fourth
So far, so good for both sides. Minnesota turned the first into Justin Jefferson, who immediately replaced Diggs’ production and swagger as a big-play weapon. The Bills, meanwhile, got Josh Allen one of the game’s sharpest, speediest route runners.
Texans acquire Brandin Cooks, 2022 fourth from Rams for 2020 second
Cooks might actually be underrated at this point, but only because his severe concussion history and penchant for being dealt (see below) has failed to make him a consistent No. 1. Los Angeles is doing just fine with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
2019Browns acquire Odell Beckham Jr., DE Olivier Vernon from Giants for OG Kevin Zeitler, S Jabrill Peppers, 2019 first, 2019 third
Not sure either side has been overly satisfied here. Beckham Jr. has obviously underwhelmed since leaving the Big Apple, in part due to injury, but he can still be electric when healthy — maybe a premier No. 2. New York, meanwhile, just unloaded the Brink’s Truck for Kenny Golladay in part because it’s failed to identify anyone nearly as game-changing as Beckham was.
Raiders acquire Antonio Brown from Steelers for 2019 third, 2019 fifth
What could have been. You wouldn’t have believed it at the time, but Pittsburgh basically got free picks thanks to Brown’s tumultuous and short-lived run in Oakland.
49ers acquire Emmanuel Sanders, 2020 fifth from Broncos for 2020 third, 2020 fourth
You may have forgotten Sanders played in San Francisco, but he was a rock-solid rental for the Super Bowl run. Turns out this was the kickoff of a journeyman career for the veteran, who’ll get another shot at a title run with the Bills this year.
2018Browns acquire Jarvis Landry from Dolphins for 2018 fourth, 2019 seventh
Maybe the most underrated move of the entire list. Landry, unlike Beckham Jr., has never peaked as a premier play-maker. But he’s been super steady and a Baker Mayfield favorite in Cleveland — a staple of the Browns’ current ball-control offense.
Rams acquire Brandin Cooks, 2018 fourth from Patriots for 2018 first, 2018 sixth
He had a career-best 1,204 yards and 10 touchdowns during the year the Rams advanced to the Super Bowl, so we’re guessing L.A. doesn’t regret surrendering the first in this case.
Raiders acquire Martavis Bryant from Steelers for 2018 third
Hard to say whether this or the Antonio Brown move stinks more. Bryant at least suited up for the Raiders, albeit to the tune of 19 catches for 266 yards.
Cowboys acquire Amari Cooper from Raiders for 2019 first
At the time, some thought Dallas vastly overpaid, considering Cooper had regressed in Oakland. While he might soon be overshadowed in Dallas alongside CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, Cooper’s quietly been a dominant No. 1 when healthy, with 3,028 yards in 41 games for the ‘Boys.
Texans acquire Demaryius Thomas, 2019 seventh from Broncos for 2019 fourth, 2019 seventh
Houston fails to properly value a veteran No. 1? Sounds familiar. Thomas was never the same after injuries took their toll toward the end of his tenure in Denver, playing just seven games for the Texans before short stops with the Jets and Patriots.
Eagles acquire Golden Tate from Lions for 2019 third
Aside from a game-winning playoff touchdown, Tate never found a comfortable fit in Philly, then walked in free agency.
2017Patriots acquire Brandin Cooks, 2017 fourth from Saints for 2017 first, 2017 third
This guy, again! And once more, we’re not sure the acquiring team regrets adding him, though, as the Pats enjoyed 1,082 yards and 16.6 yards per catch from Cooks on the road to a Super Bowl LII appearance.
Rams acquire Sammy Watkins, 2018 sixth from Bills for CB E.J. Gaines, 2018 second
There’s a reason Watkins found himself elsewhere — on the Chiefs — not long afterward. This one was fine but not great, which about sums up Watkins’ career.