The Atlanta Falcons have reportedly set an "outlandish" asking price in trade talks surrounding star wide receiver Julio Jones.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Saturday the Falcons are seeking a first-round draft pick and expect interested teams to take on the entire $15.3 million base salary for 2021 in Jones' three-year, $66 million contract, which runs through 2023.
The situation, which was seemingly trending toward a tame ending once Jones' dead-cap hit drops after June 1, has transformed into a mess over the past week.
Jones appeared on Fox Sports' Undisputed on Monday and said "I'm out of there" when asked by co-host Shannon Sharpe about his future in Atlanta. However, the seven-time Pro Bowl selection was unaware he was on live television when he mark the remark, per SiriusXM's Pat McAfee.
The impromptu interview led Jones' Creative Artists Agency representative to contact Fox Sports and left the Falcons with the belief his comments "undercut their negotiating position," according to Michael McCarthy and A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports.
Atlanta's concerns may be coming to fruition if the interview factors into a possible view of their demands as "outlandish."
The Falcons' offseason plan has been a bit of mystery. They held the fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft, which put them in position to select a potential heir apparent for Matt Ryan. Their choices included Justin Fields and Mac Jones.
They instead selected tight end Kyle Pitts out of Florida. He's a prized prospect, but the move suggested Atlanta was all-in on making one more postseason push with its current core. Trading Jones would be a step in the wrong direction in that regard.
In short, the Falcons are seemingly caught between rebuilding and trying to contend—and the middle is often the worst place to end up in the NFL.
Now Atlanta may be forced into another difficult decision if teams are unwilling to meet their demands in a Jones blockbuster. Do they take the best possible offer once June 2 arrives or stand firm and wait to see whether the proposals improve as the season moves closer?
Jones, 32, was limited to nine appearances last season because of a hamstring injury, but he'd surpassed 1,300 receiving yards in the six previous years.
While he'd be a game-changing addition for any offense, giving up a first-round pick while also taking on his full salary might be too rich for interested teams in a year where the salary cap dropped by $15.7 million.