Glenn Clark: Ravens Didn’t Trade For Julio Jones … And It’s OK To Call It A Serious Miss

Perhaps Julio Jones really didn’t want to come to Baltimore.

Those I’ve spoken to who know the receiver suggest it’s unlikely he specifically wouldn’t want to come to Baltimore, although more than one pointed out that he definitely prefers warm weather.

And perhaps the Ravens know something about Julio Jones’ medicals that the rest of us don’t. It seems unlikely, sure, but it can’t immediately be taken off the table without definitive knowledge. Someone who knows someone who knows something may have somehow tipped off the Ravens specifically … I guess.

The point is that these are the two (and only two) scenarios by which it would be understandable and acceptable that the Ravens wouldn’t pay the same price (or slightly more if necessary) to acquire Julio Jones instead of the Titans.

That’s the whole list.

But Glenn, what about Jones’ awful contract? Isn’t that why the Falcons are trading him in the first place? I’m so glad you asked! You have half of that statement correct. The Falcons indeed traded Jones because of his contract. Well … technically. They traded him because they didn’t have enough space under the salary cap to even be able to sign their draft picks and they had maneuvered so much already that this was the last place they could turn for flexibility.

But the contract being a bad one? That’s the type of thing you say when you’re trying to justify being the team that DIDN’T pursue Julio Jones for some stupid reason. There is an expectation that he will restructure the figure but even if not, his $15.3 million cap figure is just the 10th-highest number among receivers for 2021. Of the nine players ahead of him, here are the ones who had more yards per target last year than Jones’ 11.3:

Yeah. No……body. To be fair, Jones ended up missing nearly half of the season (which is why yards per target was more relevant than other stats) but has otherwise been a totally reliable player on game days even if, like many Ravens veterans, he occasionally skips practice.

The facts say that if Jones is healthy, he’s productive. And with the issue that cost him most of his season last year being a hamstring instead of a significant structural issue with, say, his knee, there’s no reason for us to think he’ll be anything other than productive again in 2021.

“Right Glenn, but what about his age? That had to be a pretty massive factor for the Ravens.”

Logan Paul “fighting” Floyd Mayweather thinks this is a “reach.” Jones will play the entirety of this season at the age of 32, or as you also might know it, “three years younger than Steve Smith Sr. when he ARRIVED in Baltimore.” But to be fair, Smith was also NEVER NEARLY AS GOOD AS JONES AT ANY POINT IN HIS CAREER, so keep that in mind.

“Yeah but the price …”

A second-round pick and change. The Titans were able to acquire one of the greatest receivers in the history of football for a SECOND-ROUND PICK AND CHANGE. The “change” certainly can’t be the issue. The Ravens were willing to lose a potential compensatory pick to sign Sammy Watkins (who has missed half the season in three of the last five years), for Pedro’s sake. Come on!

Look, not trading for Julio Jones should not singularly be the reason why the Ravens don’t win the Super Bowl. They do appear to have upgraded at wide receiver (they were going to have to try hard not to) with the addition of first-round pick Rashod Bateman. Plus, a healthy Watkins has had some productive games in recent years even if, overall, he hasn’t been much of a help in some time. And even if they had acquired Jones, they wouldn’t have been guaranteed to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

But it doesn’t mean they aren’t above criticism here. If the Ravens chose not to pursue Jones because the cost was more than they wanted to pay, that’s not OK. If they ultimately decided they wouldn’t acquire Jones because they had Bateman and Watkins and so they just didn’t want to pay any price for another receiver, that’s not OK, either. If they decided they didn’t want the minimal cost of having to re-do a couple of other contracts in order to get Jones under the cap, that’s not OK, either.

This was the bold move to make. This was the one.

And sure, perhaps it could end up working out for them. Their track record with veteran receivers is far worse than Ravens fans seem to think it is. Yes, Smith worked out. But this is the same franchise that moved on from Anquan Boldin when he had a LOT left and later took chances on the likes of Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Michael Crabtree with minimal to nonexistent returns. Jones’ marriage with the Titans might not be as fruitful as everyone seems to believe it will be. If not, the Ravens will be able to say “we told you so” even if they had no idea.

And we’ll likely never REALLY know exactly why they didn’t make the most aggressive move for the generational player. They’re not going to want to talk about a player who isn’t on their team. It would be like your buddies grilling you about a girl you just happened to say hello to at a bar one night. But it’s OK to call this a serious miss until it is somehow proven otherwise.

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox

Glenn Clark

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