Packers: Exploring the cost of a potential Julio Jones trade

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

With Julio Jones’ future in Atlanta very much in doubt, many Green Bay Packers fans are imagining how fun this offense could be with him lining up next to Davante Adams.

And what better way to show Aaron Rodgers they are going all-in for the present than to trade for a seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who, at 32 years old, would be brought in to help the team win now.

According to FanSided’s Matt Lombardo, an NFL personnel executive he spoke to believes Jones to the Packers “could be ideal”, and it’s easy to see why.

For an offense that led the league in scoring last season — featuring the reigning MVP at quarterback, a first-team All-Pro at wide receiver, a Pro Bowler at running back, and multiple Pro Bowlers along the offensive line — to add another superstar like Julio would make them close to unstoppable.

Of course, that’s from a football perspective. Actually being able to pull off such a deal is something entirely different.

What might it actually cost Green Bay to make it happen?

What would the Packers have to give up?

Would the Packers have to give up a ton of draft picks to make a deal with the Falcons? Potentially not. And they might not even need to trade away a first-round pick.

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer believes the Falcons would be willing to trade Julio for a second-round pick. He notes a number of factors such as Jones’ recent injury history, contract, and age.

If general manager Brian Gutekunst and team president Mark Murphy decide they want to go all-in for the Super Bowl this year, trading for Jones would be a good way of showing their ambition. And if it’s just a second-round pick they’d need to give up, it would be well worth considering.

However, there is more to it that makes it a difficult move for the Packers.

Salary cap makes deal difficult for Packers

It wouldn’t just be a draft pick or two being sent back to Atlanta, but Green Bay would also need to factor in the salary cap situation.

With the salary cap reduced this season, the Packers don’t have much flexibility. To pull off a trade for Julio, they’d need to get creative.

Over The Cap estimates that the Packers sit around $2.5 million under the salary cap as things stand. According to Ben Rolfe of Pro Football Network, by trading for Jones, the Packers would have to make room for his $15.3 million salary this year, and he also has an additional $2 million in guaranteed money in 2022.

There are ways to create such cap room, but it would again be an all-in approach by pushing money out into future years. One way would be to work on an extension with Aaron Rodgers.

If Rodgers bought in and agreed to return, he could sign a new contract structured in a way to ease the Packers’ 2021 cap situation by pushing money into future years. A similar deal could be made with Davante Adams.

It would be a risky approach to take as Jones is 32, battled injuries last season and missed seven games in total. It would also set the Packers up for big salary cap problems down the line, potentially ending any hopes of making a transition to Jordan Love at quarterback a few years from now.

In fact, the salary cap mess could leave the Packers in a full rebuild mode a couple of years into the future.

But the potential reward would be getting Rodgers back for 2021 and beyond while trading for an All-Pro wide receiver. If it all works out well, the Packers could be lifting the Lombardi Trophy in February.