What would the Patriots have to give up in a potential Julio Jones trade?

The Falcons could demand a high price for the star receiver.

Danny Karnik
A Julio Jones trade might cost the Patriots a couple of draft picks. Danny Karnik

If you’ve kept up with recent NFL news, it almost seems like a sure thing that Julio Jones is going to get traded. If that is the case, there are two questions that remain to be answered: Who will trade for Jones, and what will it cost?

The Patriots have consistently been linked to Jones since rumors of a potential trade first came out. While there hasn’t been news on if the Patriots have made an offer for Jones, there have been reports on what teams have offered and what the Falcons are looking to receive in a trade.

On Thursday, ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported that the Falcons got an offer for Jones that included a first-round pick. However, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio wrote Sunday that the expectation in league circles is that Jones will get traded to the Titans for a second-round pick.

In a mock trade-bidding situation, a group of ESPN’s NFL writers acted as general managers for teams that have been linked to Jones, making their best offers for the receiver. Mike Reiss, who covers the Patriots for ESPN, has New England offering a 2022 second-round pick and quarterback Jarrett Stidham.


“Drafting and developing wide receivers has been a challenge for the Patriots under Bill Belichick, so the possibility of trading for a No. 1-caliber option is a unique opportunity,” Reiss wrote. “That’s especially true in a year the Patriots have tried to capitalize on a market inefficiency, having cap space while many teams do not.”

As part of the offer, Reiss has the Patriots restructuring Jones’s contract, converting part of his $15.3 million base salary to a signing bonus.

The Patriots’ offer wasn’t selected. Instead, the Falcons’ acting GM in the mock selected the 49ers’ offer, which was a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick.

“Jarrett Stidham doesn’t solve the future quarterback issue for the Falcons, so the Patriots’ deal is out,” Michael Rothstein wrote.

In a similar exercise for The Athletic, Patriots beat reporter Jeff Howe has New England giving up wide receiver N’Keal Harry and a conditional 2022 third-round pick that turns into a second-round pick if Jones plays 15 games in 2021.

“The clock is ticking there, and the addition of Jones would make it incredibly difficult for Harry to win a job out of camp,” Howe wrote on the Patriots giving up their 2019 first-round pick. “The Falcons will likely get a second-round offer elsewhere, so the strategy here is that the Falcons might be intrigued by the possibility Harry could improve with a change of scenery.”


None of the offers in The Athletic’s trade simulation were accepted.

Not many players of Jones’s caliber get traded. When healthy, Jones is consistently among the league’s top receivers, finishing in the top three for receiving yards in every year from 2014-19.

However, a hamstring injury forced Jones to miss seven games last season and with his age (32), it’s reasonable to think that his career is on the downswing. With that in mind, plus the Falcons’ need to move him in order to open up cap space, it’s been speculated that teams won’t have to give up a first-round pick for him.

Looking at past trades involving big-name receivers, none really compare to the current situation with Jones. In 2007, the Patriots gave up a fourth-round pick to acquire Randy Moss, who was 30 at the time, from the Raiders.

In more recent years, the Raiders gave up a third-round and a fifth-round pick to get Antonio Brown from the Steelers. While Brown was one of the league’s top receivers at the time of the trade, it was speculated that his desire and actions to try to get out of Pittsburgh dropped his price.

During the 2019 season, the Patriots traded their second-round pick to the Falcons for Mohamed Sanu. The veteran receiver is nowhere near as accomplished as Jones is, but when the trade was made, the Patriots were 7-0, making it likely that their pick would be later in the round.


The most recent comparable situation was when the Texans trade DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals in 2020. In that trade, the Texans got a second-round pick (which was pick No. 40), a 2021 fourth-round pick, and running back David Johnson. The Texans also gave up a fourth-round pick in the trade.

Looking at those recent trades, it’s reasonable to think that it’s going to cost the Patriots (or anyone, for that matter) at least a second-round pick in order to get Jones.

Earlier Sunday, Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard reported that the Patriots are being “cautious” in their pursuit of a trade for Jones. If that is the case, maybe they feel a second-round pick would be too much to give up.


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