The long shot became a no shot for the Seahawks when the Tennessee Titans sent the Atlanta Falcons a second-round draft pick in 2022 and a fourth-rounder in 2023 for star WR Julio Jones, 32, and a 2023 sixth-round pick, the clubs announced Sunday.
Whether Seattle made a firm offer isn’t known, but reports suggested the Seahawks inquired.
They have the draft capital to match the Titans offer, but the Seahawks may have wanted the Falcons to pay some of Jones’ contract, which includes $15.3 million guaranteed in 2021 and two more years beyond that.
The Falcons, who have little cap room, have said since March they would listen to offers for one of the premier wideouts in the NFL, hoping for a first-round pick in exchange. A deal became more plausible for Jones after a June 1 accounting door opened for all NFL clubs to reduce amounts of dead money owed on salaries against the 2021 cap.
The Titans lost two of their top pass-catchers in free agency: WR Corey Davis signed with the New York Jets and TE Jonnu Smith joined the New England Patriots.
Even though Russell Wilson was reported to have talked with Jones about coming to Seattle, he would have been the No. 3 receiver behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, the latter having just received a big contract extension.
Last year’s No. 3 receiver, David Moore, was allowed to go into free agency after a season of 35 catches on 47 targets for 417 yards and six touchdowns. A healthy Jones probably wants more action than that.
Even though Carroll and Wilson spoke in the off-season about more use of an up-tempo offense, which would suit Jones well, he’s likely to see more passes from QB Ryan Tannehill.
According to USA Today’s Doug Farrar, on deep routes, Tannehill in 2019 completed 30 of 53 passes for 865 yards, 584 air yards, seven touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 134.6, which led the NFL.
The Seahawks will find out soon enough about the combo; their home-season opener Sept. 19 is against the Titans. Presumably Jones will be recovered from a hamstring injury that limited him to nine games and 51 catches on 68 targets in 2021.
The Seahawks used the first of their three picks in the draft to select in the second round WR Dee Eskridge of Western Michigan. His speed and 5-9 size makes him a fit for slot receiver, but Carroll said this spring he would get his chances to play outside as well.
Jones’s 95.5 receiving yards per game is the best average in NFL history, almost 10 yards better than No. 2 Calvin Johnson (86.1). He owns Atlanta’s club records for catches (848) and yards (12,896) and is second to Roddy White in touchdown receptions (63).
Jones’ proven skills would have been a great asset in Seattle, but with about $7.2 million in cap space, not including the Saturday signing of punter Michael Dickson to a four-year contract extension worth up to $16 million, the Seahawks probably saved a few crowbars trying to fit in Jones’s deal, even one re-worked.
Pen to paper. ✍️
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) June 4, 2021
The other remaining large contract item is to get agreement on a long-term extension with SS and sack leader Jamal Adams.