June 1st is upon us which means after 4PM today, the Eagles will find themselves with around $4.2M in cap space when factoring in their rookie contracts. This is thanks to a huge $7.8M injection thanks to the post-June 1st designations of Malik Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. As soon as it was made public that Julio Jones was seeking a trade, Eagles fans lobbied to the occasion and after today, a move is that much more plausible…but it shouldn’t be.
Making the case to acquire Julio Jones is an easy one. Even at 32-years-old, he’s still among the league’s top receiving talents. Despite missing seven games last year, he still had a career-high 75% catch-rate and yards per target (11), per Evan Silva.
For context, his 771 yards with nearly half a season missed is still more than any Eagles wideout through 16 games last season.
To say Jones would be an instant upgrade to the receiving corps and give Jalen Hurts a truly terrifying tandem is an understatement, but it wouldn’t be that simple.
Julio Jones has quite a meaty contract. As we all know, the Eagles had to pull just about every sneaky move possible just to stay under the cap this year, and that included trading away their franchise quarterback. Howie Roseman’s technique of backloading deals, restructuring veterans and pushing bonuses into the distance only worked for so long before those hefty cap numbers caught up. Having evaded a cataclysmic collapse and reset the roster by focusing on the youth and draft picks, bringing in a player who has a $19M cap hit in 2022 and 2023 is hardly ideal.
Up front, inheriting a $23M cap hit seems almost inconceivable unless the Eagles were going to part ways with Zach Ertz and other assets. Derek Barnett’s $10M hit would help but it’s just as likely that Fletcher Cox would end up being a cap casualty in this instance. It’s just not worth undoing an entire body of offseason work.
Where does Julio Jones fit in the bigger picture?
Jalen Reagor’s rookie year might not have panned out like many hoped, but the fact is that the Eagles have now spent a first-round pick on a wide receiver in back-to-back seasons. DeVonta Smith enters the fray as a Heisman winner and there is no way that the Eagles are going to cut his snaps. This would mean that although Jalen Reagor will see some slot reps, he’s probably going to lose some valuable reps to Jones. The trio would make an almighty monster, but there’s just no way that the addition of Jones doesn’t negatively impact an already packed wide receiver room.
As it stands, the Eagles are on the edge of having to cross their fingers in the hopes that someone like Quez Watkins, drafted only one year ago, hits the practice squad without being claimed. They’re on the edge of parting ways with a former second-round pick in J.J Arcega-Whiteside as they search desperately for that dominant red zone threat and stack up on bodies to do it.
In a room brimming with so much young potential to the point that Greg Ward is the oldest receiver in it, adding Julio Jones would only subtract from their progress and opportunity.
The Eagles have done a brilliant job of retooling and avoiding a huge rebuild while also transitioning to a much younger, hungrier team that is primed to grow over the next few years. Sure, Julio Jones would be a pipe dream addition, but neither the salary situation nor the roster complications lend themselves kindly to it ever becoming a reality.
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