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Titans emerge as the perceived favorites to land Julio Jones, for a second-round pick in 2022

As A.J. Brown's recruiting pitches to Julio Jones intensify, Mike Florio and Chris Simms wonder if the Titans may be one of the favorites to get the Falcons' star.

Three days away from the official opening of the Julio Jones trade window, there continues to be no clear and obvious destination for one of the best receivers in the NFL.

In league circles, the current expectation is that, eventually, the Falcons will send Jones to the Titans for a second-round pick.

This isn’t a report that the Titans have offered or will offer a second-round pick, or that the Falcons will take a second-round pick for Jones. They continue to want a first-rounder for Jones, with the Falcons contributing nothing to his salary in 2021 or 2022. This is simply a reflection of the current thinking among folks in the know about where this is all likely to end up.

The widespread belief that the Titans will get Jones for a second-round pick further undercuts the ESPN report that the Falcons have a 2022 first-round pick on the table for Jones. It’s possible, however, that the ESPN report was incomplete. As one source with knowledge of the dynamics explained it last night, there’s a very good chance that someone has put a 2022 first-round pick on the table in exchange for Jones plus more -- possibly as much as a 2022 second-round pick.

Given that the Falcons likely will be selecting high in round two next year, a 2022 first-round pick for Julio and the Falcons’ 2022 second-round pick represents a lesser deal than the second-round pick that they may have to eventually accept.

The Falcons continue to struggle with the idea that they’ll get only a second-round pick for Jones, and to be concerned about the perception among their fans that they didn’t get nearly enough. Beyond the fact that they got a second-round pick for receiver Mohamed Sanu, the Falcons gave up a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick for tight end Hayden Hurst and a fourth-round pick, and the Falcons decided after one season not to pick up his fifth-year option.

The average fan won’t easily realize the benefit of salary cap relief. It will be for the Falcons to get the fans to understand that, if/when they get only a second-round pick for Jones.

Final point. Don’t rule out the Patriots making a last-second play for Jones. Beyond the report that they’ve had “internal discussions” about Jones, there has been no reporting linking New England to Jones. And that’s usually how it goes with the Patriots. No one knows much of anything until the deal is done.

As early as Wednesday, it will be.