JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: Seahawks may have problem on their hands if 49ers get Julio Jones

May 27, 2021, 1:50 PM
Seahawks Julio Jones...
With Julio Jones likely to get traded, he may end up in the Seahawks' division. (Getty)
(Getty)

A scary thought for the Seahawks is the possibility of the San Francisco 49ers acquiring wide receiver Julio Jones in a trade.

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There is no doubt the 49ers are interested. San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan had Jones when he was offensive coordinator in Atlanta. He’s been to seven Pro Bowls and has had a great career since the Falcons traded up to get him in 2011.

Last year Jones was bothered by a hamstring injury that cut him down to nine games. He still had 51 catches for 771 yards, but he’s used to getting 99 receptions or more. He’s had three seasons of 100-plus catches.

The problem for the Seahawks is that if Jones ends up with the 49ers, he will be a taller receiver at a time where losing Shaquill Griffin in free agency has put the Seahawks’ cornerback position in transition. He’s 6 foot 3, 220 pounds, and the Seahawks appear to be going smaller at corner in 2021.

It’s not out of the question for the Seahawks to start two former 49ers – D.J. Reed and Ahkello Witherspoon – at cornerback. Witherspoon matches up well against Jones. He’s 6-3 and 198 pounds. Tre Flowers, who started seven games in 2020, also matches well with Jones’ size at 6-3 and 203. Reed, however, is just 5-9 and 188 pounds.

Cornerback will be the Seahawks’ most competitive position in camp. They drafted 5-10, 188-pound Tre Brown in the fourth round, and also signed Pierre Desir, who is 6-1 and 198. While Reed is likely to be one of Seattle’s starters on the outside, the other spot is up for grabs.

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For the moment, we know that the 49ers aren’t meeting the Falcons’ demand of a No. 1 draft choice for Jones. San Francisco traded away first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 in their move to trade up to draft quarterback Trey Lance. Baltimore, New England and Tennessee are among the other teams talking to the Falcons about Jones, and reports are one team has offered Atlanta a No. 1 for him.

It’s doubtful Jones will be traded before next Tuesday because his salary cap hit is too big. The Falcons, who are so tight against the cap, haven’t signed any of their draft choices and need to wait past June 1 when they can push $15.5 million of pro-ration into next season. Before Tuesday, they would have to take a $20.5 million cap hit if they traded Jones.

Things should move quickly with Jones next week.

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