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2021 NFL/Fantasy Analysis: The Julio Jones Trade (and what Richard Simmons has to do with it)...

June 7, 2021 8:20 PM
June 6, 2021 8:17 PM

2021 NFL/Fantasy Analysis: The Julio Jones Trade


When I look at this deal from an NFL perspective…it seems to me that there was way more love by the media for Julio Jones than there was in the NFL. Which is typical…the NFL media loves trades involving offensive skill position players. And every time one is moved, a guy they love/respect – the deal is always praised for the team receiving the ‘name’.

THEY (the media) loved Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns…and couldn’t understand why the Giants would do such a stupid thing. The idiots in that deal, with historical perspective = the Browns.

THEY couldn’t believe the Steelers just gave away Antonio Brown to the Raiders (memba that?) for random midland draft picks. The Raiders almost made it 6 whole months with their ultra-crucial acquisition.

The Cardinals got DeAndre Hopkins a year ago, and everyone was hysterical…does anyone take the Cardinals all that seriously today? Like, how important was this deal?

When the Bills dared trade Sammy Watkins to the Rams a few years ago, THEY had a hysterical fit about how stupid the Bills were. Sammy Watkins used to be their idol, their generational WR. Funny, how they don’t talk about that anymore…

The WR trades THEY didn’t get as worked up about have been the best ones – Stefon Diggs to BUF and Amari Cooper to DAL.

You could predict the ‘winner’ and ‘loser’ of any NFL trade just by the media reaction. If it’s a mild reaction, or THEY can’t believe some team gave up/overpaid that kinda of pick/s for the WR…then look out – it will most likely be a great deal for the acquirer of the star WR.

If THEY are all up in arms about the (too) cheap trade cost for some team to acquire the star WR and bemoan why ‘their’ team didn’t make a move for the star WR, etc., then you know it’s very likely a bad deal for the team getting that star WR.

You could know nothing about football and just apply the logic of reacting opposite to the media, and you’d be right like 80%+ of the time.

The media thinks the Titans stole Julio Jones…*applies reverse logic to situation*…which means the Titans are bound to regret this.

I have five thoughts to discuss about this deal…


1) If Julio Jones is so great…why does Atlanta always suck (recently)?

In Julio’s 11 seasons, the Falcons are (80-80) in the regular season. (4-4) in the playoffs with a Super Bowl appearance.

In the past three seasons, as Julio ages, the Falcons are (18-30) with no playoff appearances.

Obviously, Julio is not solely to blame…but I’m just putting into perspective that his presence doesn’t mean much without a surrounding cast and staff.

Atlanta of the last few years would be classified as: a team with a good-not-great, aging QB with an unimpressive defense. Julio now goes to a place with a good-not-great QB and a worse defense than Atlanta’s just last season (by PPG allowed, and they were just about even in yards allowed). Does Tennessee having a better run game than Atlanta make all the difference? Tennessee has a much better run game/O-Line but arguably worse defense than today’s Atlanta Falcons…that’s the difference that Julio has to somehow affect?

Are the Titans better off with Julio? Sure…I guess. He’s definitely an upgrade at WR…but we also have to consider all the lost opportunities due to his payroll…and also wonder just how much a ‘star’ WR really matters (especially for the cost). To put it another way – does your opinion of the Falcons 2021 season really change that much without Julio? Probably not. My win-loss tally for Tennessee didn’t change off this deal, for my upcoming Faux/Computer Sim season 1.0 report.

It’s an instant some kind of bump for Tennessee this very day/today, for sure. But when you consider the cost in payroll, the salary cap impact to 2021 – was this a wise business move ‘big picture’? And Julio wants a new deal -- and that is going to be an issue this year maybe, but FOR SURE an issue next year (when he has almost no guaranteed money due/left coming to him). Are the Titans going to give him an upfront extension? If they do give him a new deal with more guaranteed money it makes this deal take on a whole new life/analysis.

And imagine if Julio hits the wall and falls off like A.J. Green and T.Y. Hilton did last year…it happens fast/without notice. Or if Julio is just hurt a bunch and not available while aging out and costing a ton? Tennessee took a risk here for the payroll cost. I think it’s a legit/reasonable risk a contender should take, but a risk nonetheless…it’s not a slam dunk obvious winning move.


2) One of my first thoughts about this deal was – I wonder if the Titans are worried about A.J. Brown and his double knee surgery (a clean-up type ordeal) he had done earlier this year?

The Titans would be more inclined to take a risk, spend some money on a WR if they have well-founded worries about AJB. Not saying it’s a for-sure concern/issue, but it would explain some of their logic for making this move…a move most other/better contenders walked away from. KC, the Rams, the Ravens, Seattle, etc. – any of them could have locked Julio down for a serious Super Bowl run (and I think KC was CRAZY not to roll these dice). But they all passed.


3) …or did the contenders really ‘pass’?

My previous theory of Atlanta’s owner wanting to NOT send Julio to a contender semi-works/holds up with him going to Tennessee. I mean, the Titans are a playoff caliber team but not a serious title threat in anyone’s minds right now. Might Atlanta have had a slightly better offer from a better team that they turned down? Maybe? I’d be surprised (and not surprised) if KC passed up on a (essentially) one-year Julio deal for the cost of their 1st-round pick…which will be like a #30+ anyway.

So, Atlanta sends Julio to Arthur Smith’s old boss/workplace…to Mike Vrabel/Tennessee. There was a connection there to help make this deal, right?

Did Arthur Smith tip the cap to a friend…or did he use his relationship to help pull one over? Smith needed Julio gone (money-wise)/he knew Julio was gonna be traded – how did Smith help his friend/ex-boss get this deal?

Doesn’t really matter now…but I wonder if we will find out that some other team did offer a 1st-round pick to Atlanta, but they rejected it.


4) Can the NFL ever make a trade with actual players that make sense getting exchanged?

Why is it always ____ player for a basket of picks? Why wouldn’t the Falcons be interested in picks AND adding like Darrynton Evans or David Long or Dane Cruikshank? The Titans are shy at TE…might they have expanded the deal to include Hayden Hurst? No…that would make too much sense. Nope…NFL trades are almost always something in exchange for magical draft picks in hopes of the team drafting a magical unicorn some year.

Why is this so in the NFL? Why are they so afraid to trade actual players to fill actual needs?

Because there’s a chart someone made up that has points for assessing draft pick trading so numb-nut/do nothing/scared-to-make-trades/highly paid genius GMs can make trades easier because they are too stupid to do so otherwise with independent thought – they need to consult the magical trade board and point system for what future draft picks are worth. I guess NFL GMs engage in trade deals like they are doing Weight Watchers or the old Richard Simmons deal-a-meal diet plan with cards you moved around every time you ate – OK, a 1st-round pick is worth this many points…so says some trade board that I have no idea how/why it was created…so, I guess I can eat a salad for lunch and still have a cheat card/enough points left so I can eat a whole cheesecake at midnight. OK, got it.

Can there ever be a trade of a legit player/s for a legit player/s…why is every NFL trade always an overpriced and/or unhappy and/or aging star in exchange for a draft pick basket? That’s the type of deal when it’s not their ULTIMATE trade…my picks for your picks so I can move up/down in the draft…then the draft pick point value board really comes in handy!!!!

My favorite story from all this Julio deal backstory – the Tennessee GM talking about all the research he did for this deal, and he’s so proud for you to know that he EVEN called Nick Saban to do some background check. Really? What Julio was like 12-15 years ago in college needed to be found out for a deal happening today? What’s Nick Saban going to tell you…no don’t do it, I’m not sure Julio is gonna make it in the pros? YOU HAVE 11 YEARS OF NFL PLAY TO GET TO KNOW THIS KID!!! Maybe Nick Saban can tell you how great Tua Tagovailoa is as a bonus? What was Saban going to say that helped the GM make this deal – it’s freaking Julio Jones…and he’s aging…and expensive…do you want to roll the dice or not (I know, go check your trade points board and see if you can)?


5) How does this affect everyone for Fantasy?

Our draft guide package version 1.0 just dropped this past weekend – so our updated projections and player commentaries are there. That’s a tease…sorry…gotta make a living.

See the FFM Subscriber page for more info.


Who won this deal? I think Atlanta wins by getting out from under the contract and getting on with their needed rebuild. The Falcons were going nowhere fast with Julio, so this is a great/necessary move. They actually got something (picks) so someone would take the contract.

Tennessee might win too, but it’s pretty much down to the hope that 2021 better payoff because Julio isn’t getting younger – and Tennessee has way more losing (deal) factors on the table here. Like…is Julio still ‘Julio’? Is it enough ‘Julio’ to warrant this salary cap hit? Will Julio be an issue because he wants a new deal? What players might the Titans have added that they cannot now because Julio costs so much? Considering the useless/stupid spends on Vic Beasley and Jadeveon Clowney last year…this spend looks a lot better/more promising.

The Titans have to clear at least $10M in existing salary to make room for Julio (according to the numbers I’m looking at). So, this deal for Tennessee COULD become Julio for a 2nd-round pick + the players Tennessee will now cut or trade or are forced to restructure to the tune of $10M of space clearing + players they can’t get in the future if Julio gets extended? It’s hard to analyze the deal-impact today…because there are ripple effects to be dealt with from here, and we don’t know the extent of the ripple effects yet.


The real winners of this trade – the football media. They got to write a bunch of rumor pieces and trade theory offers involving 25-30 other NFL teams, and now get to discuss the aftermath of the real deal – keeps all going for the ‘slow month’ for the NFL in June.


Secret footage of the Titans GM and his staff working on this Julio deal: https://youtu.be/ZrY8diZKKZs

Actually, that might be footage of the Titans trying to figure out their salary cap issue now.

Eat your bread, move a card over. Eat a meat, move a card over. Eat a fruit, move a card over. Once you’re out of cards, then you eat the wallet. One person out there will remember that joke from our (mine and his) youth – and I expect a text to acknowledge it.

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>