When you consider other high-profile fall-outs around the league, the Falcons and Julio Jones split pale in comparison. Aaron Rodgers quite possibly could cut Green Bay off cold turkey; Deshaun Watson seems committed to never playing in Houston again; even Tom Brady’s departure from New England seemed more ill-intended than Jones’s demand for a trade and the subsequent deal that sent him to Tennessee. However, it still left a sour taste in the mouths of fans, but I am here to tell you that it went as amicably as possible when trading a franchise player of this caliber.
Fans seem to be forgetting how special Julio Jones is and what he provided to this city for over a decade, but Matt Ryan certainly hasn’t. He shed some light, as a guest on The Ringer’s Football Show a few weeks before the trade, on what people don’t appreciate about Jones via Michael Giardi from The Athletic’s Robert Mays:
“I think it’s the violence with which he runs. It’s so intimidating. He is so physically gifted in making people feel that he is just going to blow right by him. His stride length, his gait, it’s unbelievable. It’s impressive to watch. It never gets old. You can be around him for as long as I have and you watch it every day and it’s always very impressive. He is as good as anybody of getting guys feeling like he is running a go route or running a post route and then his ability to stop at that level of explosiveness and still come out of it at 6-foot-3, as big and strong as he is, it is not easy to do and nobody can do it but him. It’s impressive to watch every day. He does it with such consistency too, which is impressive. He is really incredibly consistent with those types of routes.”
Though this was before the actual trade was finalized, Ryan knew that Jones would be playing in a different uniform in 2021. I believe he would give an identical answer if asked this question at any point before or after the trade; in fact, he might even heap more praise the further we get away from this trade. The All-Pro’s ability to reach top speed on every route then shift down to break in, out, or back is unmatched; Julio Jones is special. The wounds are fresh for Falcons fans, but eventually, they’ll remember him only for his greatness.