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Terry Fontenot: We hold Julio Jones in high regard, but we have to look at every option

Rumors about the Falcons putting together the framework for a Julio Jones trade continue to gain steam, and Mike Florio and Peter King look at his contract and think GM Terry Fontenot would be wise to move on.

The Falcons continue to signal that they’re open to trading wide receiver Julio Jones.

General Manger Terry Fontenot had a chance to squash the thought that they could do so in an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta earlier this week, and he didn’t. Fontenot then reiterated his same points when asked about Jones on Wednesday, noting the team’s salary-cap conundrum.

“I really don’t want to make this about Julio because we hold the player in high regard — just like you guys do, just like everyone outside this building does,” Fontenot said in his pre-draft press conference. “The answer to that is just pointing to the cap and pointing to the fact that we’ll answer calls on any players. When teams ask about players, we have to answer those calls and we have to listen.

“We knew when we stepped into this that we were going to have to make some tough decisions, because it’s just the reality of it. That’s where we are with the salary cap. So we have to make some difficult decisions so we have to look at all the different options and all the different scenarios. And so, if someone calls about any player, we have to discuss it and do what’s right for the team. That’s what we’re always going to do. But we hold that player in high regard, we just have to look at every option to get where we need to get.”

If the Falcons were to wait until June 2 to trade Jones, they would create $15.3 million in cap space for 2021 and the bulk of the cap hit would come in 2022. While Atlanta wouldn’t be able to utilize 2021 draft picks for a post-June 1 trade, the club could still agree to a deal over the next few days.

With Fontenot saying more than once this week that he’ll answer the phone if a team wants to offer a trade for Jones, it’s increasingly likely that the wide receiver has played his last snap for Atlanta. In his Football Morning in America column this week, Peter King speculated the Raiders, Patriots, Titans, and Ravens could have interest in acquiring Jones.

Jones dealt with hamstring issues throughout the 2020 season, and played just nine games. He caught 51 passes for 771 yards with three touchdowns — his first season not totaling 1,000 yards since 2013.

Jones turned 32 in February. He has 848 career receptions for 12,896 yards with 60 touchdowns.