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ESPN predicts trade that will keep Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones in NFC

Where will Julio Jones play in 2021?

That is one of the biggest offseason questions yet to be unanswered but as the days go by, it seems more and more likely that the Atlanta Falcons will trade the former All-Pro wide receiver.

On Friday, ESPN published a piece in which they predict the Falcons will trade Jones to the San Francisco 49ers.

Here is what ESPN’s Nick Wagoner has to say about the potential trade.

Nick Wagoner’s offer: The 49ers would send a 2022 second-rounder and 2023 fourth-rounder.

Why make this offer? The 49ers have two exciting young wideouts in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, but that duo combined to play 19 games last season as injuries and COVID-19 issues kept them on the sideline. Adding Jones — who knows Kyle Shanahan and his offense well — would offer the opportunity to protect Samuel and Aiyuk while adding the big outside receiver the Niners lack. The move also puts Jones on a contender, which he expressed as a personal priority.

Jones would be an immediate starter as the X receiver and provide a needed deep threat, allowing Aiyuk to line up opposite him and Samuel to work from the slot. The Niners would boast the type of weapons whoever is playing quarterback would need to thrive.

Speaking of which, the simplest way for the Niners to make this deal work financially would involve moving quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco needs to sign linebacker Fred Warner to a lucrative contract extension, and that is the first priority. But it would be far easier to fit Jones’ $15.3 million salary for 2021 in along with a Warner extension if they were to save $25 million by moving on from Garoppolo after June 1.

That would be the easiest move, but it would be tricky because the Niners would want to be sure that Trey Lance is ready to start before handing him the reins. There are, of course, other ways to fit Jones and a Warner extension in, so a Garoppolo trade or cut is not a prerequisite for a potential deal involving Jones. 

Nation, where do you think Jones will play in 2021?

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