Amid rampant speculation about whether his 10-year run with the Atlanta Falcons could be coming to an end, Julio Jones further fueled rumors about a possible split.
On Monday, Shannon Sharpe called the wide receiver during “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.” Sharpe asked Jones if he wanted to play for the Dallas Cowboys or remain with the Falcons. Over the weekend, a fan posted a photo on Twitter of Jones wearing a Cowboys hooded sweatshirt.
“I’m out of there, man,” Jones replied.
Sharpe followed by asking him where he would ideally play, to which Jones replied, “I want to win.” Sharpe then joked that Dallas would not be the place to do so.
“Come on man, you already know I know,” Jones replied.
Jones reiterated his stance after Sharpe said the two were live on air. It was unclear whether Jones was previously aware that the conversation was being broadcasted.
“I ain’t going to Dallas, man,” Jones said. “I ain’t never thought about going to Dallas.”
Jones, 32, was thought to be a crucial focal point as the Falcons looked to turn things around quickly under first-year coach Arthur Smith and GM Terry Fontenot. Though he only played in nine games last year, he still managed to record 771 receiving yards. By lining up Jones and wide receiver Calvin Ridley along with rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, the Falcons looked to have one of the league’s best receiving corps for veteran quarterback Matt Ryan, whom the team kept in the fold this offseason with a contract restructure.
Yet the Falcons face a massive salary cap crunch, with the team still needing to sign its rookie class and having less than $500,000 available, according to overthecap.com.
Trading Jones after June 1 would clear his $15.3 million salary for 2021, though Atlanta would incur a dead cap charge of $7.75 million this year and another $15.5 million in 2022.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Jones requested a trade from the Falcons months ago.
Fontenot said last month the team would consider all of its options to resolve its salary-cap issues.
“I really don’t want to make this about Julio because we hold the player in high regard – just like you guys do, just like everyone outside this building does,” Fontenot said in his pre-draft news conference. “The answer to that is just pointing to the cap and pointing to the fact that we’ll answer calls on any players. When teams ask about players, we have to answer those calls and we have to listen.
“We knew when we stepped into this that we were going to have to make some tough decisions, because it’s just the reality of it. That’s where we are with the salary cap. So we have to make some difficult decisions so we have to look at all the different options and all the different scenarios. And so, if someone calls about any player, we have to discuss it and do what’s right for the team. That’s what we’re always going to do. But we hold that player in high regard, we just have to look at every option to get where we need to get.”
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.