By: Tyler Kirk
On June 6, the Atlanta Falcons traded WR Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans. The trade package included Atlanta sending Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick in return for the Titans’ 2022 second-round pick and 2023 fourth-round pick.
Jones, who was drafted by Atlanta with the 6th overall pick in 2011, played 10 seasons with the Falcons. Jones is very much on track for the Hall of Fame – totaling 848 receptions, 12,896 yards, and 60 touchdowns so far in his NFL career.
Jones joins an already terrifying offense – with Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and emerging star A.J. Brown leading the charge.
Tannehill has resurrected his NFL career on the Titans, playing his best football over the last two seasons at QB with the team. Despite only starting 12 out of the 16 games in the 2019 season, Tannehill has produced 6,561 passing yards, 55 passing touchdowns, and only 13 interceptions during his time in Tennessee.
Henry has become an absolute monster running the football, coming off an All-Pro season in 2020. He rushed for 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns, leading the NFL in both categories. A.J. Brown has also proven that he can be an elite receiver in the league, with 2,126 career receiving yards and 19 receiving touchdowns through two seasons.
This trio of players guided the Titans to an 11-5 record last season en route to their second consecutive playoff appearance before ultimately losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round. Despite Tannehill’s success in the passing game the last two years, A.J. Brown was their only real threat at the WR position. Due to this, defenses had more flexibility in the passing game which allowed them to add an additional defender or two in the box to contain Derrick Henry in the run game. This happened in their postseason game against the Ravens, who held Henry to 40 rushing yards on 18 carries. Adding a superstar like Julio Jones to the equation provides the Titans with two lethal receivers that defenses must worry about instead of one, which will reduce the number of defenders in the box who are focused on stopping the run game.
The addition of Jones will also provide less attention to A.J. Brown. With each team’s best cornerback now matching up against Jones, Brown will be able to flourish even more in the Titan’s passing attack. As Jones said recently, teams will have to “pick their poison” while trying to defend the Titan’s three-headed monster of himself, Henry, and Brown.
It is important to note that Jones is coming off a hamstring injury and missed seven total games last season. The Titans are taking a risk trading valuable draft picks for a 32-year-old fresh off a season-ending injury, however the upside is so much more valuable in this scenario. Is Julio Jones the piece of the puzzle that was missing for Tennessee? Only time will tell.