After weeks of speculation, the Atlanta Falcons traded their star wide receiver Julio Jones, opting for an offer from the Tennessee Titans. In the deal, the Titans give up their second round pick in 2022 and fourth round pick in 2023 in exchange for Jones and a 2023 sixth round pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter as well as the Tennessee Titans' website.
The Titans have to absorb $15.3 million in salary to make the move, but the overall deal seems pretty reasonable. It's at least worth bringing up they could have kept Corey Davis, who is 26 years old without giving up any draft picks in the process. Davis signed with the New York Jets in free agency in a deal worth up to $37.5 million over three years.
The Cleveland Browns had the picks and the salary cap flexibility to make a move for Jones themselves, but opted not to do it. Jones is 32 years old and missed time with injuries last year, but in the nine games he played for the Falcons, he was better than anyone on the Browns.
So long as Jones remains healthy this season, he should have an outstanding year for the Titans and might have done the same for the Browns. Along with new teammate A.J. Brown, they offer an excellent combination of size and speed that can create running room for Derrick Henry and the Titans ground game.
The Titans still have plenty of questions to answer on defense, but this establishes them as the favorite to win the division again in the AFC South.
The Browns won't see the Titans this season unless both teams make the playoffs and face each other there. So from that standpoint, not getting Jones did not directly empower a direct rival.
Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won the AFC North in 2020, entitling them to a first place schedule, they have what could be murderer's row the last month of the season.
After playing the Minnesota Vikings on the road, the last four games of the Steelers season they host the Titans, potentially with Jones in tow, followed by going on the road to play the Kansas City Chiefs, hosting the Browns at home and finishing up their season on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.
That's about as brutal a stretch of football as any team will face this season and the Steelers have had a difficult offseason as a result of salary cap issues and significant turnover in the coaching ranks.
The Titans could be one of the most potent offenses in the league this season after acquiring Jones, but that shouldn't impact the Browns unless the teams meet each other in the postseason.