Arthur Smith was a guest on the Rich Eisen Show recently, and he was asked about the future of Julio Jones.
“I think it’s pretty common and obviously it gets reported when someone of the caliber of Julio’s name gets thrown out there,” said Smith on the show. “Certainly what’s coming from Terry [Fontenot] and I, you’re always skeptical who leaks what and what’s their incentive. Clearly that happened.”
“But I think it’s pretty common from every general manager or personnel decision maker, you gotta call all the time. People call about people on your roster. You’re certainly going to listen. If someone blows you away with an offer, you have to come back and assess what the potential is for that offer.”
“People are going to call about players. That’s pretty common. What you hope is not common, because you’re not actively shopping good players, is that you hope stuff doesn’t get leaked out. But the problem with the NFL and pro sports in general, is everybody’s go to have an incentive, so somebody leaks that stuff out.”
While he didn’t directly come out and say it, Smith is obviously speaking of player agents when speaking of incentives. Agents are simply doing their jobs looking out for the best interest of their clients, but that doesn’t always mesh with the plans of coaches and personnel managers.
Eisen pressed the issue a little harder with his follow up by asking Smith if he planned on having Jones next season.
“I’m not going to predict the future. We’ll see what happens. The [salary] cap is what it is. We know that. There’s a lot of ways to get under the cap, but all options are on the table. I’m not going to make some hot take today and tell you something that’s not true.”
If the Falcons do move Jones, it won’t happen until after June 1st when his salary cap number can be spread across two seasons instead of one. The Falcons need to clear about $11M just to sign their 2021 NFL Draft class and moving Julio Jones would clear a big chunk of that space (roughly $7.5M).