Julio Jones rumors fly around NFL, Browns landing spot unlikely

Julio Jones and the Cleveland Browns will be forever linked after the team traded down to allow the Atlanta Falcons to move up for the dynamic receiver out of Alabama.

All Jones has done since the 2011 NFL draft is catch 848 passes for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns. Jones has had three seasons with over 100 receptions (along with 99 catches in the 2019 season).

This season, Jones will be 32 years old after only playing nine games last season. With the Falcons needing cap space to sign their draft picks and the team possibly looking to the future with Calvin Ridley and the number four overall pick, Kyle Pitts, as their main offensive weapons, Jones’s name has been floated in rumors for some time.

One issue for the Falcons is that they would have to eat over $20 million in dead cap should they trade Jones before June 1st. That number drops to under $8 million if they wait until after the first of June.

With Browns GM Andrew Berry being hyperaggressive so far in his short time running the team, fans have wondered if Jones could be targeted. The Browns are one of a handful of good teams that could afford Jones’ contract and have a clear Super Bowl window opening in front of them.

The thought of Jones running routes opposite, or on the same side as, Odell Beckham Jr. would drive defenses crazy especially with the Browns quality run game and diversity of tight ends and other receivers on the roster.

Unfortunately for Browns fans, the NFL is not run like fantasy football or Madden video games. While Jones would be an exciting addition, the Browns would then have close to $50 million in cap space tied up into three receivers. The Falcons, who would be looking to save money in a Jones deal, would not have interest in bringing back a different wide receiver making similar money.

Asset cost could also play a role in keeping the Browns from making a deal for Jones. Taking over $15 million in cap space that could be allocated to extensions for Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward, or Wyatt Teller to add a third high-priced receiver may not be good cap management. Doing that plus giving up a player and pick(s) for a 32 year old is highly unlikely for the Browns.

Would a healthy Julio Jones make the Browns more of a Super Bowl contender? Yes. Would a healthy Julio Jones give enough bump to the Browns roster that it would be worth both the cap and asset hits it would take to acquire him? Probably not.