Julio Jones wants out of Atlanta, but Washington isn’t a realistic trade partner

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Why Washington won't trade for Falcons star WR Julio Jones originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Julio Jones wants out of Atlanta.

There have been rumors of such for weeks, but the 32-year-old confirmed such on Fox Sports 1's The Undisputed on Monday, telling co-host Shannon Sharpe "I'm out of there" and "I wanna win."

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With Jones now wanting out, there are several teams that could make sense for the seven-time Pro Bowler. Baltimore, Tennessee, Las Vegas and even Green Bay (assuming Aaron Rodgers stays) all appear to be good fits.

However, while adding Jones would make all other 31 NFL clubs immediately better, it doesn't make sense for the Washington Football Team to make a run after the two-time All-Pro.

For starters, Washington has already significantly upgraded its receiver room this offseason, investing in the position in both free agency and the draft.

Ron Rivera's club inked Curtis Samuel to a three-year deal in March and then one week later, signed Adam Humphries to man the slot. Then, Washington used its third-round pick on UNC wideout Dyami Brown -- an explosive pass-catcher who was arguably the best deep threat in college football last season -- as well as BYU's Dax Milne in the final round. 

All of this goes without yet mentioning Terry McLaurin, who has established himself as a top-20, arguably top-10 wide receiver in the NFL just two years into his professional career.

Sure, Washington's wide receiver room isn't the NFL's best. But, it's significantly better than it was one year ago -- with none of the wideouts on an overly expensive deal.

Additionally, the price to acquire Jones -- or at least what the Falcons are hoping to receive in exchange for him -- is steep. That price? A first-round pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

In general, trading a first-rounder in exchange for a veteran receiver is looked down upon league-wide, especially considering how many good young wideouts are entering the NFL each year. The exception would be a team like Green Bay, a club that might feel adding Jones is the last piece they need to make a Super Bowl run.

But for a team like Washington, one that is still rebuilding its roster despite winning the NFC East last fall, giving up a first-round pick for a 32-year-old receiver absolutely makes no sense, no matter how good they may be.

And, while trading a first-rounder for Jones is already parting with valuable capital, consider how much the 32-year-old is still owed on his current deal. Jones is owed $15.3 million in 2021, all of it guaranteed. In 2022 and 2023, Jones is owed north of $11 million each season. That's an expensive contract to take on for an aging wideout who's dealt with multiple injuries.

In the past week, we've seen Washington move on from two of its longest-tenured players. Ryan Kerrigan, 32, signed with Philadelphia after Rivera told him they wouldn't be re-signing him. Then, longtime right tackle Morgan Moses, who started 96 straight games for Washington, was released.

As NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay noted last week, one thing Rivera has frequently said in his year-plus as Washington's boss is learning from the mistakes he made during his first tenure as a head coach in Carolina. One of those mistakes was holding on to veteran players longer than he should have.

Currently, Washington only has six players on its roster north of 30 years old. When final roster cuts are made in September, it's likely only four 30-plus-year-olds will remain: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tress Way, Dustin Hopkins and Jon Bostic. Half of those are specialists, too.

Rivera has a plan in place for turning the culture around in Washington. In Year 1, he exceeded expectations. Yet, despite winning the division last year, the head coach has said multiple times this offseason the team still has a long way to go.

Why does any of this matter? Well, adding a player like Jones doesn't fit Rivera's plan. The head coach wants his team to get younger, even if it means parting with someone like Moses -- a locker room leader and long-time team captain. 

Trading for Julio Jones would undoubtedly make Washington better in 2021. Such can be said for every other team in the NFL.

But, for what it would take to acquire Jones, what he's due contractually and how he would fit into Rivera's long-term plan, making a move for the 32-year-old just doesn't make sense for Washington.