The Las Vegas Raiders have made steady improvements during Jon Gruden’s most recent tenure with the team. Now, heading into year four, it is time for them to take the next step and become a playoff team. That could include trying to trade for Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones.
There have been some discussions this offseason about quarterback Derek Carr, but he looks like he will be under center for them for at least one more season. If that is the case, the organization would be smart to continue adding some weapons for him to throw the ball to.
Las Vegas has tried to add some dimensions to their passing attack in recent seasons. Tyrell Williams was signed in free agency, but was a bust. Henry Ruggs III was selected in the first round in 2019, but may not profile as a true No. 1 receiver. Nelson Agholor had a strong 2020 with the Raiders, but is entering free agency again and is probably better suited in a complementary role, not as the go-to guy.
While the Raiders haven’t been able to fully solve the equation at wide receiver, they have done great at the tight end spot. Darren Waller has turned into a star at the position, following up strong seasons from Jared Cook. For four consecutive seasons, the leading receiver for the Raiders has been a tight end.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers rely heavily on their tight ends, but Las Vegas could use an upgrade on the outside. If they want to find that upgrade via trade, Julio Jones presents an intriguing option. In the proposed trade, the Falcons would send Jones to Las Vegas in exchange for a 2022 first/second-round pick.
The Falcons veteran could be heading toward divorce with the team. Atlanta is knocking on the door of a rebuild and a 32-year-old doesn’t fit that timeline. They have a rising star in Calvin Ridley that can take over as the No. 1 option in-house as well, so the time could be now to move on from their long-time receiver.
The injury concerns with Jones are legitimate, as he appeared in only nine games this past season. Despite the nagging hamstring injury, Jones still had some truly dominating performances, with three games of at least 137 yards this season.
Jones has three years and $66 million remaining on his contract. If the Raiders are willing to absorb that number, the Falcons will have to listen. The time is quickly approaching for Atlanta to begin cleaning house, and the Raiders present an opportunity to kickstart that process.