Report: Falcons talked Julio trade with 49ers, NFC West rivals

Julio Jones

In the end, Julio Jones got his wish. The Atlanta Falcons traded the star receiver to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick.

While the Titans eventually landed the surefire Hall of Fame receiver, the Falcons had discussions with a number of teams, The MMQB's Albert Breer reported Monday, including the 49ers and each of their NFC West rivals.

"The Ravens discussed a Jones trade with the Falcons prior to the draft, but pulled out of the running after taking Rashod Bateman in the first round, and never got back in," Breer writes. "The Patriots never showed real interest to Atlanta in Jones, and the Raiders (perhaps for cash reasons) weren’t in it either. The Falcons did wind up talking to all four NFC West teams about a Jones trade, but never got a real offer from any of them."

The 49ers were an easy team to link to Jones as the trade rumors swirled. Coach Kyle Shanahan was Jones' offensive coordinator in Atlanta in 2015 and 2016 and has an affinity for the 32-year-old star.

But it would have been complicated for the 49ers to make a trade for Jones. While the two draft picks aren't a non-starter, the 49ers surrendered a first-round pick and a third-round pick in the 2022 draft, along with a 2023 first-rounder, to move up to draft Trey Lance. Dealing a second and a fourth for Jones would have further raided their draft capital stash which they now are trying to rebuild.

RELATED: Why 49ers trading for Julio would have been complicated

Jones' $15.3 million salary also would have been an issue for the 49ers. While they currently have $18 million in cap space, the 49ers would like to save some of that money for Fred Warner's extension and future contracts for Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel.

There also was talk that Jones would request a new contract if he has a big year in 2021, which would further complicate the 49ers' financial standing.

It is surprising that none of the 49ers' NFC West rivals made a bid for Jones after having cursory discussions.

The Los Angeles Rams are in win-now mode after emptying their draft cabinet to acquire Matthew Stafford and Jalen Ramsey over the past two seasons. The Seattle Seahawks need to find a way to make and keep Russell Wilson happy, and acquiring Jones would have given Wilson a three-headed receiving monster that would have been near impossible to stop. The Arizona Cardinals always looked like a dark horse Jones contender, as the thought of pairing Jones and DeAndre Hopkins would have had Kliff Kingsbury drawing up plays to torture defenses with for months.

But Jones now finds himself in Tennessee, as one part of a playmaking trio that will keep defensive coordinators awake at night.

As for Shanahan and the 49ers, they are just happy Jones didn't land with another NFC contender. That was the best-case scenario with a deal to land the star receiver off the table.

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