Rapoport: Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Sam Darnold Won't Be Traded by Falcons, Jets

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2020

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) lines up against Minnesota Vikings cornerback Jeff Gladney (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

While there will be some notable players on the move ahead of the Week 8 NFL trade deadline, some of the biggest names in the rumor mill are expected to stay put.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, along with the New York Jets' Sam Darnold, are expected to stay with their current teams.

A trade of Ryan and Jones would have brought about a full-scale rebuild for the Falcons, while the Jets haven't yet signaled they're willing to give up on Darnold as their quarterback of the future.

The Falcons' lack of movement ahead of the deadline should not come as a surprise. They fired coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff earlier this month and are expected to undergo a search for new leadership this offseason. Decisions about the futures of Ryan and Jones should be made by the new front office.

"If somebody came to us with a trade for a player and it made sense to us—it was in that player's best interest, our best interest and we could do it—would we consider it? Maybe. That's something we would look at," team CEO Rich McKay told reporters earlier this month. "But this will not be a situation where we're going to predetermine the roster for the next head coach and general manager. We're going to let them come in, let them evaluate this roster, let them see the moves they want to make.''

It is highly unlikely either Jones or Ryan is heading anywhere until after the 2021 season at the earliest. Trading or releasing Ryan would result in a $49.9 million dead cap charge next year, while doing the same for Jones would lead to a $38.6 million charge. Getting rid of both would represent a near-impossible level of cap strain.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported teams have been told "in no uncertain terms" Ryan and Jones are off the table.

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Darnold has had flashes of brilliance but has been saddled with some of the worst skill position talent and coaching in the sport since his 2018 debut. It's not entirely clear how much of his struggles are his fault, and how much lie on incompetence in the front office and from coach Adam Gase. Teams would certainly be interested in buying low in Darnold and potentially installing him as a backup for the remainder of this season under a stable veteran, but the Jets likely want to see what they have before moving on.

Assuming the team's downward trajectory continues, Darnold will almost certainly be moved this offseason so the Jets can take Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields at the top of April's draft. If Darnold flashes in the second half of last season, however, it remains possible the Jets could instead keep him as their starter and look to fortify their roster elsewhere.