Atlanta Falcons: Imagining life without Julio Jones


Before every season, each fan inches closer and closer to the edges of his or her seat as they watch the contract discussions. If the deal doesn’t get done, the possibility of watching the team’s best players walk away in free agency looms large, denting hopes of a Super Bowl run.

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As the Falcons enter the last weeks of the offseason, all eyes are on the chaotic tides of Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas who are paving the way for Julio Jones. But unlike Denver and Dallas, the situation in Atlanta is more dire than in those cities.

When the Atlanta Falcons paid a king’s ransom to vault up the draft board, they showed the world that they were in a position to compete not only now but in the future.

Aug 15, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) celebrates with wide receiver Julio Jones (11) after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

And when a front office dangles their future on the shoulders of a premier player like Jones, they commit themselves to re-sign that player when the time comes.

But what happens if the two sides fail to reach a common ground?

Jones has supplanted himself amidst the elite receivers in the NFL, and it would be a travesty if No. 11 wasn’t running the sidelines after an extension. But in the salary cap era, anything can happen and money can pull anyone away from their teams.

In the event that a deal is not reached before next season, all the progress made by this franchise is immediately nullified. Sure there are good players around the team, but everyone agrees Julio is the best playmaker, and the strengths of the high flying offense are marginalized against every team because Jones is head and shoulders above most every defender.

When you take a look across the league, it’s hard to realize the severity of the Julio saga. Much like Dallas, who have traded or released their other playmakers, the Falcons are sitting back counting the payday trucks to dump on Julio, and the question is not “if the deal gets done”, but it’s all a matter of when.

The historic trade to grab Jones in 2011 is now hanging in the balance and will either go down as the worst of all time or the best for the Falcons.

Though Dez is a similar type of receiver, the costs the Falcons paid a few years ago sets this for incredible proportions as the future of the Falcons will be cast by the ability or inability of striking a deal.

Every player drafted since Jones has been a complementary piece to an offense revolving around him.

If a deal is done, the hype of a growing franchise will continue, but if it can’t be done, the Falcons will suddenly slip back into irrelevancy, asking themselves what could have been.

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