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Report: Falcons getting calls about Julio Jones as they deal with salary cap issues

The Falcons are in a tough spot with the cap, but would they actually deal away arguably their best player?

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs against New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are currently an estimated $6,125,482 over the NFL’s salary cap, per Over The Cap. They have until final roster cuts to get down to the cap, but with an entire draft class to sign that could include the No. 4 overall pick — barring a trade — they’ll need a chunk of change for that as well.

Which brings us to what should be a hot rumor regardless of the veracity of it. Ian Rapoport is reporting the team has received calls about a possible trade for wide receiver Julio Jones. Teams see the Falcons’ cap issues and like vultures circling their prey, they think the team might be ready to move on from the 32-year old All Pro pass catcher.

Rapoport noted that the team can’t really do a deal until June 1 due to cap reasons. Per OTC, if the Falcons trade Jones before June 1, they would carry $23,250,000 in dead money and lose $200,000 in cap space. If they trade Jones on or after June 1, they would carry $7,750,000 in dead money and save $15.3 million in cap space. While it does move a lot of dead money to 2022, it would give the team a lot more wiggle room.

The Falcons are in a tough position as the 2021 NFL Draft approaches. They hold the No. 4 overall pick, but it’s unclear if they will look for a quarterback of the future with the pick, a big-time offensive option to give Matt Ryan some help, or maybe trade back. Regardless, if they were not dealing with cap issues, it would seem unwise to deal Jones. If the team wanted to move into an aggressive rebuild, it might make some sense, but that does not seem to be the case right now. And yet, we know these rumors won’t die for the time being.