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Hop On Julio

Denver Broncos v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins is quickly emerging as the Cardinals’ top recruiter. His impassioned plea to former Texans’ teammate DE J.J. Watt of “let’s finish what we started” appeared to have planted the seeds that enabled the growth and eventual blossoming of the Cardinals’ chances of signing Watt.

Now, Hop is trying to plant the seeds of a trade with the Falcons for fellow All-Pro WR Julio Jones. Apparently, Hop is so keen on playing with Julio that Hop is willing to restructure his contract.

Before we get to the specifics of whether a trade for Julio Jones is feasible for the Cardinals, let’s pause for a minute to acknowledge DeAndre Hopkins’ focus on winning the ultimate prize in football, not only to the point of helping the Cardinals fortify their defense with the addition of DE J.J. Watt, but for being willing to share the WR spotlight in Arizona with Julio Jones.

That’s pretty dang cool.

Hop on Julio —- #letsgetit

Is trading for Julio Jones something the Cardinals would and/or should consider?

Julio Jones has three years remaining on his current contract and his cap hits would be as follows:

  • 2021: $15.3M
  • 2022: $11.5M
  • 2023: $11.5M

Do you see something very attractive and auspicious about these figures?

Perhaps you saw the same thing, but what’s remarkable is that for the final two years of the contract, the Cardinals would be paying Fitz-type money of recent years ($11.5) for Julio.

Julio is 32 this year —- when Fitz was 32 his line was: 109 / 1,215 / 11.1 / 9 TDs

Julio is 33 next year —- when Fitz was 33 his line was: 107 / 1.023 / 9.6 / 6 TDs

Julio is 34 in 2023: when Fitz was 34 his line was: 109 / 1.156 / 10.6 / 6 TDs

Fitz and Julio are both 6-3, 220, but Julio still runs a 4.4. He ran a 4.39 at the 2011 NFL Combine.

In Lindy’s 2020 Pro Football Preview, they wrote of Julio Jones: “Has developed into a first-class leader; widely respected for his toughness and grit.”

Julio Jones passes the Tillman Test with flying colors. Everything about him is right in line with the Cardinals’ 2021 team building philosophy.

The 2020 season was Julio’s least productive in many years. He had an injury-riddled season due to a nagging grade 2 hamstring strain.

However, here are Julio Jones’ stats over the past few seasons:

  • 2020: 51 / 771 / 15.1 / 3 TDs
  • 2019: 99 / 1,394 / 14.1 / 6 TDs
  • 2018: 113 / 1,677 / 14.8 / 8 TDs
  • 2017: 88 / 1,444 / 16.4 / 3 TDs
  • 2016: 83 / 1,409 / 17.0 / 6 TDs
  • 2015: 136 / 1,871 / 13.8/ 8 TDs

The consistency of Julio’s production here is off the charts. And, as you know, he amassed these numbers despite getting routinely double and triple teamed.

Imagine then what Julio Jones could accomplish lining up opposite or to the same side as DeAndre Hopkins.

Imagine too the prospects of Kyler Murray throwing darts for the last three years of his rookie deal to a WR trio of DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones and Rondale Moore.

Yet, can the Cardinals actually afford to take on Julio Jones’ $15.3M 2021 cap figure?

Hey, the World Champion Bucs’ 2021 WR cap allocations (Cardinals’ 2021 cap allocations with Julio Jones):

  • Chris Godwin: $15.98M (Julio Jones: $15.3M)
  • Mike Evans: $12.3M (DeAndre Hopkins: $12.5M)
  • Antonio Brown: $3.08M (Christian Kirk: $2.43M)

Come June 1st, the Cardinals have the ability to add $8-9M (with some roster cuts or trades) to their current $13.307M cap space which would allow the Cardinals to add Julio Jones’ $15.3M and still have a little over $6M in cap space.

Plus, the Cardinals could restructure some current contracts, if let’s say they also wanted to sign CB Steven Nelson and/or DT Geno Atkins.

It benefits the Falcons to wait until after June 1st to trade Julio Jones, thus if a trade occurs, it likely wouldn’t be for a another week or so.

Questions:

  • Does a potential trade for Julio Jones excite you?
  • What would you offer the Falcons if you were the GM?
  • To help you decide, take a look at Julio Jones’ 2020 highlights (while at times playing with his hamstring strain). How does he look to you?

I will “Hop” in with my answers after reading a host of yours.