NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is tackled by New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams and outside linebacker Demario Davis and cornerback Patrick Robinson during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last fall.

Julio Jones could be coming soon to the trading block as the Atlanta Falcons entertain inquiries about the wide receiver’s availability.

Multiple reports Monday indicated that teams are knocking and the Falcons are listening, but contract hurdles exist that might prevent a trade prior to June 1.

Jones, 32, caught 51 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns in nine games in 2020. His low production was a byproduct of injuries.

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection has three years left on his contract, including $15.3 million for the 2021 season and $11.53 million for 2022 and 2023.

A trade could be agreed to this week without involving 2021 draft picks if the Falcons prefer to execute the deal June 2 to lower the cap hit and assign the charge to next year.

Between Jones, Matt Ryan and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, more than $70 million in 2021 salary cap space is consumed by three contracts.

Jones and Ryan have been one of the most prolific combinations in NFL history. Entering last season, Jones’ career average of 96.2 receiving yards per game was the best in NFL history.

But the hamstring injury derailed his 2020 season and Ryan clicked with Calvin Ridley. The third-year pro caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s owed just $1.9 million in the final year of his rookie contract but the Falcons are planning to exercise his fifth-year option for 2022.

New head coach Arthur Smith played a brand of power football with the Tennessee Titans that might not require as much perimeter firepower.

The Falcons are also in prime position this week with the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL draft to find a suitable replacement with either Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

--Field Level Media

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