The Tennessee Titans’ decision to trade for Julio Jones this week has been widely regarded as a good move. Yet it would be inaccurate to say the feeling is universal.
The Titans sent a second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and a fourth-round choice in 2023 to the Atlanta Falcons for Jones (plus a sixth-round pick in 2023). That is hardly a king’s ransom for a player who is a seven-time Pro Bowler and one of the most productive receivers in NFL history.
Mike Giddings of Pro Scouts Inc. says it was too steep a price to pay for a player who will be the league’s seventh oldest at his position in 2021 (he turned 32 in February) and was limited to nine games played in 2020 because of injuries. Giddings explained his thinking this week on 33rd Team Call, a regular feature on The 33rd Team, a website that features commentary from scouts and former NFL front office staffers.
Pro Scouts Inc. is a company that studies professional players throughout the football season and provides detailed reports to many NFL teams.
It uses a color-coded grading system in which the best players are considered blue, the next best players are considered red followed by purple. At the end of the season, Giddings closely analyzes all those who fall into those categories, which accounts for roughly 58 percent of the players in the NFL and are, according to Giddings, “players you can win with.”
“(Jones) has three strikes, which off of our basis, gives him five percent odds to play blue or red,” Giddings said. “… Throw in the money, I think it was a reach and too much.”
His conclusion is that the best-case scenario is that Jones plays one “red” year for Tennessee. The hope is that he does not fall below “purple.” Plus, Jones’ salary of $15.3 million in 2021 required franchise officials to restructure quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s contract in a way that will leave less room to sign free agents in 2022.
Meanwhile, Giddings said that a wide receiver taken in the second round of the draft has an 84 percent chance to perform at purple or better in three of his first four seasons, which in his mind would have been a better use of that asset.