Reports had been released pegging the Seattle Seahawks as the leader’s in the clubhouse in the Julio Jones sweepstakes. They were a Vegas’ betting favorite to land the megastar wide receiver, and it’s was tweeted that Julio and Seattle Quarterback Russell Wilson have had discussions about the possibility. While on the surface, it may have seemed like a great match, in the end, it was best that he went elsewhere. Let’s go through, one by one, both the advantages and disadvantages of missing out on one of the greatest wider receivers of their generation.
The first thing that needs to be talked about in any trade is cost. How much would it be to acquire said player? Initial reporting indicated that the Atlanta Falcons wouldn’t accept anything less than a first-round pick, but that price dropped to a second rounder. It ended up being a two and a four that sealed the deal for the Tennessee Titans. So … could Seattle have beaten an offer like that? Yes, but it would have hurt. As last year’s blockbuster trade for Jamal Adams had left Seattle’s draft capital a little threadbare. They do not have control over next year’s first, meaning their best 2022 draft pick will most likely be a low second-round pick in the mid-’50s to 60’s range. Parting with that would have meant two years in a row without a first-rounder and just one second-round pick, this year’s D’Wayne Eskridge. Missing out on too much cheap, young talent would have ramifications going forward.
Also, a concern was the dearth of cap room the Seahawks are already dealing with. According to Spotrac, Seattle only has a projected $4 million in cap room, while Julio Jones would have a projected $15,300,000 cap hit for the upcoming season. That’s a problem. Seattle would have had to find a way to clear $11 million off of their books to house Jones’s current contract. The easiest thing would’ve been to ask Russell to restructure his deal in the future, but that could’ve also been done earlier in free agency but never happened. While Russell is reportedly happy with Seattle’s moves so far, he may not want to commit his future to this team further until he sees how these moves play out. In the end, some money would have had to go out the door back to the Falcons, with Tyler Lockett, Quandre Diggs, and Brandon Shell in that salary range.
Even if Seattle could have found a deal that the Falcons would’ve wanted and made the cap chicanery work, would it have been worth it on the field? Julio Jones is coming off a season where he ended the year injured and is 32 years old. While his production didn’t dip in those nine games, 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns, it’s fair to wonder how gracefully he will age. Especially considering the player they would most likely have swapped for him, Tyler Lockett, is coming off a 100-catch season and has proven invaluable as a Russell Wilson safety net. The pair are drastically different in nearly every way, from size (Jones at 6’3”, Lockett at 5’10”) to play style. Jones is a matchup nightmare due to his size, speed and savvy, while Lockett uses footwork and route running to free himself from opposing defenders. It should also be stated that Seattle has what looks like a Julio Jones clone in the imposing DK Metcalf, who hasn’t quite become that level of receiver Julio is but seems to be on track to be heading into his third season. Would having two of these receivers be incredibly hard to stop? Yes. Is that enough to give up Wilson’s most important safety blanket? Seattle, in the end, determined that not to be the case.
As with any trade, it’s all about what Seattle would have had to give up. In a vacuum, any team would welcome Julio Jones. Seattle would’ve been hard-pressed to lose more picks, as well as the possibility of losing Lockett, who has become integral to what Seattle wants to do on offense. A Jones-Metcalf Goliath wide-receiver duo would have been an amazing show every Sunday, but in the end, the cost would have been too much. Instead, Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll can bank on future growth from Metcalf, and the consistent production Lockett will provide. If Eskridge can live up to his draft hype, people will quickly forget about all the Julio Jones possibilities as Seattle’s already good offense can take strides forward into the future without him.