The Julio Jones trade rumors are finally coming to an end and the future Hall of Famer is not going to be suiting up for the LA Chargers. The Chargers made sense from a fit standpoint, a talent standpoint and a monetary standpoint but it did not matter; Jones is going to Tennessee.
There were obviously going to be other teams in the mix for Jones and the Chargers were going to have to outbid someone. While that could have raised the price for Jones, it simply didn’t and now this feels like a massive missed opportunity for the Chargers.
The price for Julio Jones? A second-round pick and two late-round picks. Yes, that is it.
Official compensation update: Falcons will get a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick for Julio Jones and a sixth-round pick in 2023. Trade now official.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 6, 2021
Why it is absurd that the LA Chargers did not beat this offer:
Now, we have no idea if the LA Chargers were even interested at all in Julio Jones. They should have been as the move was a no-brainer and they certainly had the draft capital to beat this deal. Send Atlanta the second-round pick and fourth-round pick and a fifth-round pick instead of a sixth. Done.
Let’s first talk about the second-round pick. The NFL, more than any other league, really seems to overvalue draft picks and while you can find someone special in the second round, you can also find a lot of duds. Look at the Chargers’ recent history of second-round picks.
Plus, we are all expecting the Chargers to be better with Justin Herbert in his second season and Brandon Staley taking over the coaching duties. Throw Julio Jones in the mix and it is safe to say that the Chargers would pick somewhere between 20-23.
If the Bolts had the 20th pick in the draft then that means the second-round pick would have been the 52nd pick in the draft. The Chargers would be trading a pick that we project to be outside the top 50 for a future Hall of Fame receiver.
The second thing to consider is the fourth and fifth-round picks. Sure, it is two more draft picks the Chargers wouldn’t have, but the Chargers are also projected to have four compensatory picks in next year’s draft. They might be fifth and sixth rounders, but having four extra picks should make it easier to move on from day three picks who are hit-or-miss anyway.
Jones himself still has it. He is at the absolute peak of his game? No. But he was still on pace for over 1,300 yards last season and suffered the first real injury his career. Yes, he only played nine games, but he rarely missed time before that and does not deserve any sort of injury-prone label.
The Chargers have the cap space to make it happen and could have ran with an overpowered receiving trio of Keenan Allen (in the slot!!!), Julio Jones and Mike Williams. Having Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton as injury options is a huge luxury.
The transition from Mike Williams after this season would have been easier. Jones would help bridge the gap and take some of the pressure off of Josh Palmer to fill those shoes in year two. Plus, Julio’s salary for years two and three is probably going to be less than whatever Williams signs for in free agency.
Having a star quarterback on his rookie deal is the biggest competitive advantage in football. It allows teams to spend money unlike teams without rookie quarterbacks and the best teams in recent years have thrived with their quarterbacks on rookie deals.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks are all recent teams that made deep runs with their quarterbacks on a rookie deal. It is because they made the most of it and spent that money.
The LA Chargers have certainly spent, but they still have just shy of $20 million in cap space that appears to simply be rolling over into next year. You get this rookie contract luxury once every 15-20 years, to not take advantage of it is silly.
The ship has not sailed for the Bolts to take advantage. Perhaps they will go on a frenzy with the rolled over cap next offseason after a solid 2021 season and put their Super Bowl stamp on the team then.
But knowing the LA Chargers, can we really expect that to be the reality?