It seems like a matter of when rather than if as we continue to talk about Julio Jones being traded away from the Atlanta Falcons. The star receiver has made it abundantly clear that he would like to play elsewhere once the 2021 season gets underway and the Falcons have reportedly been fielding calls to try and execute a deal. While Jones doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, one would think that he has some say in where he ultimately ends up. After all, if he didn’t like the destination that the Falcons wanted to move him to, he could always threaten to not play for that organization, which, in theory, would spoil any trade interest.
With that in mind, it is worthwhile to know what Jones is looking for in his next club. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, two factors are at play. First, Jones wants to go to a contender. That’s a pretty standard request for someone of his stature. While Jones has built an outstanding Hall of Fame-worthy résumé that currently has him 20th on the all-time receiving yards list, he is missing a Super Bowl title. As he enters his age-32 season, those opportunities at a ring are growing ever rare, which puts an emphasis on landing with a team that’s already in the thick of Super Bowl conversations.
Meanwhile, the second factor on Jones’ wishlist is the more intriguing of the two. He is also looking to join a team with a big-armed quarterback that can deliver him the deep ball, per Fowler. Jones wants the ability to outrun defensive backs and get underneath the ball during his next stop in the NFL.
While Jones’ average yards before the catch have stayed relatively the same over the last three seasons, his average depth of target has consistently decreased over that same stretch. In 2018, Jones’ average depth of target was 14 yards, which fell to 12.2 in 2019 and 11.2 last season. Given his reported desire for more deep shots down the field, it’s possible Jones felt those opportunities were falling by the wayside in Atlanta, contributing to his wishes to play elsewhere.
As for who fits that criteria, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs certainly is one of the first quarterbacks to come to mind. He is billed to have one of the best arms in the NFL and was third in the league in intended air yards in 2020, only looking up to Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. K.C. has recently been linked to Jones thanks to both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce noting that they’d like to play with him in the Chiefs offense. According to SportsLine’s odds, however, Kansas City is +2000 to land Jones, meaning that this pairing may be a bit out of the realm of possibility.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks have reportedly discussed acquiring Jones and SportsLine gives them the third-best odds to execute the deal. Russell Wilson — who was sixth in the NFL in intended air yards in 2020 — has phenomenal touch on throws down the field (just ask D.K. Metcalf). They sure would check both boxes that Jones is eying.
Again, the receiver doesn’t have a no-trade clause so the ball isn’t entirely in his court, but it is fascinating to hear about what he’s looking for as he begins this next chapter of his career.