The San Francisco 49ers are entering Phase 3 of the NFL’s offseason, meaning they can now conduct in-person meetings and will eventually hold 10 organized team activities.
General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were busy shaping the roster over the past two months. The Niners were one of the busier teams this offseason. They re-signed several of their own free agents, inked a few veterans on the open market and traded up to acquire the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
With all of the movement, the roster is in good shape going into the 2021 season, but the 49ers could still add some pieces prior to Week 1.
One player who has been mentioned in recent weeks is All-Pro receiver, Julio Jones. The 32-year-old dealt with injuries last season that limited him to just nine games. Jones finished the 2020 campaign with 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns.
The Atlanta Falcons are in a tough spot with the salary cap and are reportedly looking to move the receiver. Sportsbook BetOnline.AG released its latest odds for where Jones can end up in a potential trade and has San Francisco with the second-best odds.
- Baltimore Ravens +275
- 49ers +300
- New England Patriots +450
- Los Angeles Chargers +600
- Tennessee Titans +600
- Indianapolis Colts +700
- Green Bay Packers +900
The Niners have roughly $17.6 million in cap space but still need to sign their incoming rookies. Jones’ cap hit is $23.05 million for next season, per Over the Cap. The cash-strapped Falcons only have a little more than $410,000 in space, so moving Jones would allow them some much-needed wiggle room.
Any trade involving Jones likely won’t be made until after June 1. If Atlanta cuts the seven-time Pro Bowler before June 1, it will have more than $40 million in dead money on the books for next season. If the Falcons cut or trade Jones after June 1, the dead money drops by a substantial amount to just $7.75 million, and they would save $15.3 million under the cap.
If Atlanta can’t find a willing trade partner, it could simply move on from Jones next week and take the financial savings. In that case, Jones would likely sign for a lot less as a free agent. Given that he had some of his best seasons with Shanahan as his offensive coordinator, Jones could be interested in joining the 49ers.
San Francisco has Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk as its top two receivers, so Jones isn’t necessarily a must-have for the team. Tight end George Kittle gives the offense another elite pass-catcher, so Lynch and Shanahan may elect to pass on pursuing Jones.
There is no doubt about Jones’s ability. He’s been a game-changing receiver throughout his career and might be looking to be on a championship contender going into the twilight of his career.
The Niners would likely have to cough up some draft picks in any package to acquire Jones, which is an area they’re already thin on due to the deal with the Miami Dolphins to get quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3.
Jones would be a luxury for the 49ers at this point, but it’s undeniable that he could have an immense impact on Shanahan’s offense.
Oddsmakers seem to be high on San Francisco as a potential landing spot for Jones. With June 1 fast approaching, we will likely see the rumor mill begin to heat up.