Arizona Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins questioned whether elite pass-catchers are being properly valued in the wake of the Julio Jones trade.
The Atlanta Falcons sent Jones to the Tennessee Titans for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-rounder. Tennessee also received a 2023 sixth-rounder.
"I would like to see a first-round pick that could do what Julio and myself do," Hopkins told reporters Wednesday. "... You know, I know I was only coming off a first-team All-Pro, so I kinda figured I might only go for a second round. But I was surprised a guy like Julio would only go for a second-rounder."
The Houston Texans netted a second-round pick, a fourth-rounder and David Johnson in return for Hopkins and a fourth-round pick last offseason. But that deal was a bit of an outlier in that it was widely panned at the time and now looks even worse.
If a player's trade value was based solely on his age and production, then the Falcons probably could've gotten a first-rounder at minimum for Jones. The 32-year-old is a seven-time Pro Bowler who caught 51 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns in nine games in 2020.
But Jones' contract removed some of Atlanta's leverage.
The Titans had to assume his $15.3 million base salary along with the fact he may want one more big payday before he hits free agency in 2024.
Charles Robinson @CharlesRobinson
From what I’ve been told, the price for Julio Jones in talks with at least one team was a first round pick, plus players. That’s steep and I have a hard time believing the #Falcons get that. And there’s also the reality that Julio may want a new deal, too. https://t.co/7vl1yn5e4i
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Ryan Tannehill restructured his contract so the team could get Jones and remain under the salary cap. If Jones were to get a new contract from Tennessee before 2024, then it would probably require more additional maneuvering.
The market for Jones may not have been all that robust relative to his Hall of Fame-level credentials, and the Falcons also had to work against the fact everybody knew he wanted out of town. Potential trade suitors knew they could simply wait Atlanta out.
Hopkins thought the Titans got a bit of a bargain—and maybe they did—but the Falcons were over a barrel.