The Atlanta Falcons decided earlier this season, along with the request of now-former wide receiver Julio Jones, that it would be in the best interest of both parties to trade the now 32-year-old, elite talent the man still is.
Coming off a season where Julio only played in nine games due to a nagging hamstring injury, one thing did ring clear – he’s still lethal and can make defenders miss.
However, while many fans of the team decided to pull the classic “Julio’s quitting on the team” or “We’re tanking now; why not dump Ryan while we’re at it?”, there was one glaring insight found via Twitter that made myself think about this question:
Could Julio Jones actually return to the Falcons in the near future?
At first glance, it’s almost a formality with how the responses will be towards this question, from “The Falcons didn’t want him, let him go already” or “You’re delusional in this blasphemy. It’s time to forget Julio Jones with the Falcons”.
That said, allow yours truly to provide some context as to why Julio may return home to our beloved Falcons to close out that already set-in-stone Hall of Fame career, courtesy of former Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson’s first-ballot entry.
The first point of evidence? Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s mantra of Julio and quarterback Matt Ryan being “Falcons for life”, coupled with how former general manager Thomas Dimitroff formulated their most recent contracts.
While Ryan’s was arguably more manageable in terms of restructuring for cap implications, Julio’s sadly wasn’t given the hits it presented, which is why now current GM Terry Fontenot had to trade him post-June 1st, for the exact salary cap implications.
Julio knew this was a possibility, so to help out both parties, he requested a trade to not only allow him to maximize his own championship window but also enable the Falcons to have the requisite funds needed to sign the incoming rookies. If anything, that was a class act by an even classier human.
Then, there’s another piece of evidence that directly ties into bogus claims on social media: Julio wanted out of Atlanta because of Matt Ryan’s declining arm strength. Julio wants to finish as an Atlanta Falcon.
Right there, does that have any indication that he had beef with Ryan? Or that he wanted out of Atlanta? The answer to both questions is a resounding NO.
In short, Julio Jones knew that to be the ultimate team player and put the organization which drafted him in the best position to succeed right now given their financial constraints, it was only necessary for him to provide them assistance while simultaneously maximizing his window with a young up-and-coming receiver after ensuring the Falcons had their next Julio in Ridley.
So be ready when his contract expires in 2023, Falcons nation. Because there’s a good chance that #11 might be returning to Atlanta, where the Falcons play.