It’s truly the end of an era for the Atlanta Falcons.
After trading up in the 2011 NFL Draft to snag Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, the Falcons received much bewildered feedback, as the outside world questioned whether the price was worth it.
10 seasons, 12,896 receiving yards, and 60 touchdowns later, it seems fair to say that Atlanta made the right move pairing Jones with former star receiver Roddy White.
A supremely productive run with the team ended over the weekend, when the Falcons traded Jones to the Tennessee Titans.
Jones will continue his pursuit of a Super Bowl ring in the AFC South, while Atlanta will look to retool their team in 2021.
It will be difficult to see Jones playing in a different uniform for Falcons fans.
Here are three reasons why fans of the team might be upset about the transaction.
They didn’t. He’s gone.
Julio deserved better.#MattRyan deserves better.
Another “we’ll see this year” season coming up.
— Ryan Michael 🏈 (@theryanmichael) June 6, 2021
3. He’s An Atlanta Sports Legend
As we’re seeing with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, athletes synonymous with certain cities and fan bases don’t always want to stick around for eternity.
In recent months, it certainly seemed like Jones himself was clamoring to be moved, which put the franchise in a tough situation.
But could the Falcons have tried to make amends with their star receiver?
Jones is on a very short list of respected Atlanta sports royalty, eclipsed only by players like Dominique Wilkins, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, and Hank Aaron.
Atlanta fans likely would’ve wanted to see Jones stick around with the team, either for one last playoff push, or to usher in a new era of Falcons football.
Because of you, 11 will always mean more. pic.twitter.com/SJQaT4URNX
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 6, 2021
2. Why Not Keep Him For Another Year?
Unfortunately for the Falcons, they’re stuck in an ultra-competitive division.
The Tampa Buccaneers are coming off of a Super Bowl championship, and the New Orleans Saints are always in the mix with head coach Sean Payton.
As such, the road to the playoffs for the Falcons will not be easy in 2021, but it also wasn’t an impossibility, either.
If they were to keep Jones for another year, the team would have potentially featured one of the most prolific passing offenses in the NFL.
We’ve already seen what Jones and emerging wide receiver Calvin Ridley can do.
In theory, it was only going to get better with the addition of generational tight end prospect Kyle Pitts.
It would have been fun to see what a triumvirate that special could have accomplished together.
1. Compensation Received Was Subpar
Jones is slightly getting up there in age, as he turned 32 this past February.
Even still, when he’s on the field, he remains one of the premier playmakers in the game, and could have helped many teams in a major way.
Unfortunately, the Falcons were only able to receive a second-round pick in next year’s draft, and a fourth-round selection in the 2023 draft.
That feels like light compensation for a player who stands to vault the Titans into the Super Bowl conversation next year.
Atlanta’s leverage was hurt by Jones’ clear desire to leave the team, but acquiring Day Two and Day Three draft picks for a difference-making talent has got to sting.