Why Julio Jones probably isn’t heading to the NFC North

(Photo by Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports) Julio Jones
(Photo by Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports) Julio Jones /

The Minnesota Vikings might have to face Julio Jones twice per season if he gets traded to a team in the NFC North this year.

Despite not being in the same division, the Atlanta Falcons have become a common opponent for the Minnesota Vikings during the last few seasons. In Mike Zimmer’s seven years as the team’s head coach, the Vikings have faced the Falcons five times.

With Zimmer as their head coach, Minnesota was actually undefeated against Atlanta until the two teams met last season. The Falcons cruised to an easy 40-23 win over the Vikings in 2020 thanks in part to Atlanta All-Pro receiver Julio Jones hauling in eight passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

Speaking of Jones, who is currently 32-years-old, rumors about the Falcons looking to trade him recently picked back up, and his time in the NFC South could be coming to an end in the near future.

Minnesota Vikings shouldn’t be worried about Julio Jones landing in the NFC North

With Jones still capable of putting up monster numbers for a few more seasons, there are several teams around the NFL that should be interested in trading for the talented receiver.

Is there a chance that Jones could land with a team in the NFC North this year? At this point, the likelihood of this happening seems to be pretty low.

Minnesota is obviously set at the top of their wide receiver depth chart with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, so there’s no reason to expect them to pursue a trade for Jones.

The Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Green Bay Packers could all use more help at the wide receiver position, but there are several factors that will probably prevent Jones from landing with either of these three teams.

Affordability is what will likely keep the Bears and Packers out of the Jones sweepstakes. With the way that his current contract is set up, the All-Pro receiver will have a cap hit of more than $15 million next season. OverTheCap.com has both Green Bay and Chicago with a current cap space of less than $2.5 million, so they would need to make some major roster moves in order to afford Jones.

As for the Lions, they seem to currently be in a bit of a rebuilding mode with a new head coach and a new general manager. They have the cap space (almost $19 million), but trading for an expensive receiver whose best years are likely behind him probably isn’t going to be something that’s part of Detroit’s plan to turn the team into a consistent competitor.

So for any Vikings fans that were concerned about Jones possibly catching passes from Aaron Rodgers or any other quarterback in the NFC North next season, the chances of him landing with a team in the division seem to be pretty low.