The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz wrote that the Indianapolis Colts could be a potential trade suitor for Atlanta Falcons superstar wideout Julio Jones—who could soon become available in trade negotiations:
Fact 3: The market for Jones will be limited
“Many teams would like Jones on their roster, but not many realistically can trade for him,” writes Schultz. “The Falcons’ hope is that enough teams (think: three to five) express interest to create a market. Think of 1) teams with enough cap space to absorb Jones’ $15.3 million base salary; 2) contending teams that believe he would put them over the top; 3) young teams looking to take the next step. Among the teams that could fall into these categories: Ravens, 49ers, Patriots, Colts and Chargers. One league source said the Titans also may show interest, but they also are close to the cap ceiling.”
However, while Jones remains one of the best wideouts in all of football—even as an 11-year veteran, there remains one problem: the Colts don’t currently have the cap space.
When it comes to all things Colts salary cap wise, Kyle Rapoza “ColtsCapKyle” routinely knows his stuff, so I’ll defer to his expertise:
Ironically, the Colts actually don’t have the cap space to trade for Julio Jones even if they had interest.— Kyle Rapoza (@ColtscapKyle) May 20, 2021
Ya, he should out them somewhere around 12-13m depending on how the deal is structured— Kyle Rapoza (@ColtscapKyle) May 19, 2021
As a rough estimate, the Colts have around $20.5M of projected available cap space, prior to the Eric Fisher ($9.4M) deal becoming officially subtracted from that amount. After the Fisher deal formally hits the books, that leaves the Colts with around $11.1M from my best ‘guestimate’.
Either way, that’s well short of the $15.3M cap hit that any acquiring team would absorb for Jones as a potential trade destination in 2021.
Could the Colts get creative and restructure some other contracts—if Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard really wanted to make it work? Certainly.
But if I were a betting man, I’d wager that Ballard probably doesn’t want to surrender anymore high draft capital either for 2022 (having presumably lost next year’s first round pick already in the Carson Wentz trade).
Much less for a 32 year old wideout (as great as Jones still is).
That, when coupled with the Colts’ current salary cap situation, and Jones’ owed cap hits of $11.4M the next two seasons thereafter (with Quenton Nelson’s, Darius Leonard’s, and Braden Smith’s contract extensions looming), and such a deal simply doesn’t seem logical.
It’s just not in the cards for the Colts currently.
That doesn’t mean that the 5x NFL All-Pro isn’t a great player (if healthy) and wouldn’t certainly help upgrade the Colts’ wide receiver corps in 2021—but he’s just not a clear fit right now.