PHILADELPHIA – It appears the San Francisco 49ers have emerged as the frontrunner to land Julio Jones, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Saturday.
Still lurking in the shadows, though, are the Eagles.
A pair of sources confirmed, also on Saturday, a report earlier this week that Philadelphia is indeed sniffing around the Atlanta Falcons superstar receiver. And, if it happens, wouldn’t that bring some extra juice for the season opener, which happens to be in Atlanta against the Falcons?
Some questions to consider:
Is it unreasonable to think a trade won’t happen?
No. Not with GM Howie Roseman at the controls.
It feels like a move a team close to winning a Super Bowl would make. Of course, the Ryan Kerrigan move felt like that, too.
And would a WR triumvirate of Jones, Jalen Reagor, and DeVonta Smith take them closer to shocking the NFL world and winning the Super Bowl?
There are deficiencies on defense, but there are still a few months to make a necessary repair or two.
A rookie head coach has never done it, either so that it is a challenge in its own right with Nick Sirianni sitting in the lead chair.
Is it possible for the Eagles to make it happen?
Yes. Challenging, but heck yeah.
Jones is scheduled to make $15.3 million in 2021. The Eagles don’t have that kind of cash.
Not yet anyway.
Tuesday is a big day in that it is June 1, and the Eagles are expected to get a salary cap boost of about $4M when the contracts of Alshon Jeffery and Malik Jackson come off the books.
That would put them at $7.8 million over the cap.
A decision on tight end Zach Ertz could also come that day when a release would lop another $8.5M off the books and put the Eagles $16.3M under the cap.
Voila, Jones fits.
The Eagles would be hard-pressed to do much else to the roster, plus the rookies still need to be signed.
Waiting until Tuesday also benefits the Falcons, who would save all of the $15.3M against their cap and have to eat only $7.7M in dead money.
Cash aside, there’s compensation to consider.
Atlanta reportedly wants a first-round pick. The Eagles could have three of them in 2022, so maybe we are looking at this wrong, thinking the Eagles will spend some of that capital on a QB.
Instead, maybe it’s a WR like Jones.
Would I make the trade?
I certainly wouldn’t send a first. A second, well, that might be tempting.
How could you not at least be tempted to take a player with 12,896 career yards receiving, 60 touchdowns, and 848 receptions? Jones is on a Hall of Fame trajectory.
Yeah, he’s 32.
Yeah, a nagging grade two hamstring issue limited him to just nine games last year.
And, yeah, we know Merrill Reese wouldn’t do it. The legendary Eagles announced tweeted:
“I don’t believe that the Eagles should try to sign big-name wide receivers at the end of their careers. Years ago, they signed future Hall of Famers Roy Green, Art Monk, and James Lofton who were all disappointing at their final stop. The Birds have enough young talent at WR.”
Green was 34 when he joined the Eagles in 1991, Lofton was 37 in 1993, and Monk was 38 in 1995. They had nothing left.
Reese is right about the young WR corps, but maybe that is even more of a reason why they should add a veteran.
Someone likes Jones would also likely elevate the play of Hurts to the point where the Eagles could getter a better assessment of him heading into 2022.
So…yes, I would do it.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.