Falcons' Matt Ryan: Julio Jones Has Impacted My Career More Than Any Other Player

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 18, 2021

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons speaks with Julio Jones #11 prior to an NFL game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said Tuesday wide receiver Julio Jones, who's been the focus of trade rumors leading up to the 2021 NFL season, has "impacted my career more significantly than any other player."

Ryan also called Jones "one of the best to ever do it at his position:"

Justin Felder @Justin_FOX5

"From a player standpoint, he's my teammate. He's my guy. You let the other side of it shake out how it is."<br>--Matt Ryan on Julio Jones and the WR's future with the #Falcons. Full answer ⬇️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/1XKPKl4N0k

Peter King of NBC Sports reported last week there's a 60 percent chance Jones is traded by Labor Day, which is Sept. 6, six days before the Falcons open the regular season against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders are among the potential landing spots for the seven-time Pro Bowler, per KOA's Benjamin Allbright.

Jones' name previously entered the rumor mill leading up to last season's trade deadline, but he said at the time he wasn't looking to get moved when asked.

"No," Jones told reporters in October 2020. "I play football. I know who I am. I know what I got going on. I know what I mean to this team."

The 32-year-old University of Alabama product was limited to nine games in 2020 because of a hamstring injury. He finished the year with 771 receiving yards, which marked the first time since 2013 he didn't top 1,000 yards.

He's still a game-changing player when healthy, as he showed with 137 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings last October.

Atlanta's receiving corps, which is among the NFL's best with Jones joined by Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, would take a hit if the two-time First Team All-Pro is eventually traded. Olamide Zaccheaus would likely get the first crack at filling the void in three-receiver sets.

In the bigger picture, trading Jones would be the first step toward ushering in a new era for the Falcons, which would also include at some point moving on from Ryan, 36, whose contract runs through 2023.