With plenty of cap space remaining, the Indianapolis Colts could find themselves in an envious position when it comes to a star wide receiver who could be on the move.
As the Atlanta Falcons continue to have discussions regarding the trade of star wide receiver Julio Jones, Indianapolis' $22 million in remaining cap space and the need for a true No. 1 receiver makes them an ideal destination for the All-Pro and future Hall of Famer.
According to Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox, of the seven trades the analyst would like to see before the start of the season, Jones to the Colts is one of the trades Knox highlights.
Though there would need to be a corresponding move to fit Jones' $23 million cap hit under the salary cap for 2021, the Colts would be able to add a true No. 1 receiver at a reasonable price, according to Knox's trade proposal.
What Falcons receive: 2022 third-round pick, 2023 second-round pick
What Colts receive: Julio Jones
Here's what Knox had to say about the possible Jones-to-Colts move:
The Indianapolis Colts should be in on Jones. They're looking to reestablish Carson Wentz as a quality NFL starter while also trying to remain in the AFC playoff field. Jones could be a big contributor for both goals, as Indianapolis' receiver depth is questionable. Michael Pittman Jr. appears to be a budding star, but Parris Campbell has struggled to stay healthy, and T.Y. Hilton is set to play on a one-year deal. Affording Jones shouldn't be a significant issue, as Indianapolis has $22.9 million in cap space. Colts GM Chris Ballard has shown he's willing to be aggressive on the trade market, giving up a first-round pick for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner last offseason. Indianapolis owes the Philadelphia Eagles a conditional second-round pick that would become a first-rounder if Wentz plays 75 percent of the snaps this season—or 70 percent with a playoff berth. Trading a third-round pick plus a future second might be enough to land Jones, as teams are valuing 2022 selections "like gold," according to Rapoport.
When you look at that trade proposal, that seems like an easy deal to make, no? While the Colts will have a sizable salary cap space ahead of the 2022 season, they would be able to fold Jones into the mix with ease, and could potentially land a third or fourth round compensation pick for the loss of Denico Autry and Anthony Walker Jr. in free agency, making the third round pick in 2022 easier to swallow.
While it is true that General Manager Chris Ballard is pretty aggressive when going after star power, it's worth mentioning that Jones turned 32 years old in February and is coming off of an injury-riddled season that saw him play just 9 games. Additionally, Jones carries cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023, making him an expensive mid-30s receiver on a run-first offense.
The move sounds great on paper, especially considering the relatively cheap draft capital projected in the proposal, but Ballard - like every other general manager in the NFL - is valuing 2022 draft picks like gold, as Ian Rapoport reported, meaning it's unlikely Ballard will willingly part with a draft pick or two right now, especially after trading future picks for Carson Wentz.
Have thoughts on the proposed Falcons-Colts swap for Julio Jones? Drop a line in the comments section below!