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Clayton: Why Seahawks couldn’t offer what Titans did to get Julio Jones

The Seahawks reportedly had interest in Julio Jones, but he went to Tennessee. (Getty)

Julio Jones won’t be the newest Seahawks wide receiver, but it makes a lot of sense for the Atlanta Falcons to trade Jones to the Tennessee Titans.

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Even though the Falcons didn’t get the first-round pick they sought for Jones, they got good value out of the deal as the Titans checked the boxes for what they wanted. The main prize in Atlanta’s return is a 2022 second-round pick, which carries more value than in most years because of what’s being called the Super Senior option.

The Super Senior option allows college seniors to stay in school for a second senior year in 2021. There were 1,046 players who went back to school. That left the 2021 draft with around 800 players eligible to be taken, much less than any other year.

That’s not all Atlanta got for Jones. Because the Titans add Jones to a lineup that already has wide receivers A.J. Brown and Josh Reynolds and halfback Derrick Henry, their second-round pick that Atlanta now receives could end up in the lower part of the round. As a result, the Titans also threw in a fourth-round pick in 2023. The Falcons gave them back a sixth-round pick in 2023.

It’s doubtful any other team was offering anything higher than a second-rounder to the Falcons for Jones.

Another big item is that the Titans were willing to take on Jones’ entire $15.3 million base salary. The Falcons didn’t have to contribute a dime to let him go in the trade. The Falcons had only $285,000 of salary cap room and couldn’t sign their draft choices if they kept Jones. While they still had to take on $7.75 million of dead money on their 2021 cap, they freed up $7.55 million of cap room.

Based on the deal the Falcons eventually got for Jones, there was no way the Seahawks were going to be in the final mix. Sure, Seattle general manager John Schneider will stay in touch on most deals, but the Seahawks have only $6.8 million of cap room and wouldn’t have been able to take on the $15.3 million guaranteed base. Jones, who is on a $22 million a year contract, certainly wasn’t going to take a paycut, and I’m not even sure if the Seahawks were willing to give up a second-round pick.

The good news for the Seahawks is that Jones is not going to the San Francisco 49ers, their NFC West rival. San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan was Jones’ offensive coordinator during the Falcons’ Super Bowl year, and adding Jones would have made the 49ers’ offense scary.

In a sense, though, you can say Jones will be coming to Seattle. The Titans visit the Seahawks in Week 2.

In other Seahawks news, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner ended their boycotts and came in for OTAs this week. It was time. Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady was one of the biggest advocates of the OTA boycotts but he showed up last week in Buccaneers headquarters. Now Wilson can start working with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and his new offense in OTAs and minicamp.

Follow John Clayton on Twitter.

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