Julio Jones wants out of Atlanta, and many have pinpointed the 49ers as the most likely landing spot for the 32-year-old star receiver.
However, the 49ers might have a hard time orchestrating a deal for Jones for a number of reasons. First of all, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that the Falcons would prefer not to trade Jones within the NFC.
As Schefter notes, the Falcons will take the best value for two-time All-Pro selection. But in order for the 49ers to have the sweetest offer, they will need to give up more draft capital than the other teams who are interested in Jones.
Schefter also reported Monday that the Falcons have asked inquiring teams for a first-round pick in exchange for Jones. At the moment, it feels unlikely that any team would be willing to meet that price for an expensive, albeit talented, 32-year-old receiver.
The 49ers, of course, can't meet that ask as they traded away their 2022 and 2023 first-round picks in order to move up to select Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft.
There's also the issue of Jones' salary, The star receiver is due $15.3 million in base salary next season, and the 49ers are projected to have around $11 million once all of their draft picks have been signed. That means the 49ers would either have to ask the Falcons to pay part of Jones' salary, or they'd have to restructure his contract which likely would add more dead money onto Jones' contract, something the 49ers would rather not do.
So, in order for the 49ers to get the Falcons to pay somewhere in the $5-to-$7-million range of Jones' 2021 salary, they'd have to tack on extra draft capital to sweeten the deal.
Would a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 third-round pick (compensatory) be enough to get the Falcons to send Jones to an NFC competitor and pay a third of his salary?
It's possible. The Falcons currently are in salary cap hell and don't have enough room to sign their draft class. Getting Jones off their books is the best way for them to get some financial breathing room.
However, with teams like the New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos all potentially in the mix, as well as the Green Bay Packers, it seems unlikely that the 49ers' deal would be the best one on the table -- let alone be enough for the Falcons to stomach trading one of their franchise pillars to a top-tier NFC contender.