Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Peter King skeptical an NFL team offered a 1st-round pick for Julio Jones

May 31, 2021 at 8:30 AM--

As expected, there has been a lot of Julio Jones speculation leading into this week. After Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons can trade veteran wide receiver Julio Jones, offload his salary, and break up his cap hit between multiple years.

There has been speculation that the San Francisco 49ers might be interested. Of course, that has just been speculation, as no teams can officially comment on any interest while the receiver remains under contract with the Falcons. There is the link with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, Jones' offensive coordinator in Atlanta for two seasons. The wideout had the best statistical season of his career in his first season with Shanahan.

ESPN's Dianna Russini recently reported that the Falcons have been involved in several trade discussions for Jones, and that one interested team has even offered a future first-round pick for the receiver. That team probably wouldn't be the 49ers. They don't have a first-rounder until 2024, thanks to a trade up this year to draft quarterback Trey Lance.

Many fans doubt that a first-rounder might be on the table for the 32-year-old Jones. They see it as a rumor possibly put out by the Falcons, which makes sense for a team desperate to move the receiver but also seeking to drive up his trade value.

Count Peter King of NBC Sports among those who are skeptical that the Falcons have a first-round offer on the table.

"ESPN reported last week the Falcons have been offered a first-round pick for Jones," wrote King in the latest installment of his always lengthy Football Morning in America columns. "I'm skeptical of that, but we'll see. 'If Atlanta had that offer,' one GM with interest in Jones told me last week, 'they'd have made the deal and just said we'll announce it next week.' It could be that the Falcons may end up with a first-round pick in a future draft beyond 2022, but I believe they have not been offered that yet."

The logic makes sense. And we'll see what happens after June 1. There are several other tidbits regarding Jones in King's column, including the Falcons' willingness to accept a second-round pick in 2022 for Jones.

Another small 49ers-related tidbit from King is the longtime writer defending his placement of San Francisco within his recent power rankings. King has the Niners at No. 5. One Seattle Seahawks fan was not pleased with San Francisco being ranked that much higher over his favorite team, which came in at No. 12. The fan points out that the 49ers have only had one season with more than six wins since Shanahan and general manager John Lynch took over and that the Seahawks are consistently good.

"As a long-time Seattle fan, this is what really irks me about national coverage," he adds.

King responded to the criticism, explaining why the 49ers are ranked so high after coming off a six-win season.

"When I do these ratings, Mark (the fan), I have to ask myself what every team is going to look like on Sept. 1 of this year, not the previous year or years," wrote King. "Last year, coming off being up 10 in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback the key player on the offense and Nick Bosa at defensive end the key player on the defense, I had the Niners rated fourth entering the season. And in the first half of the second game of the season, Bosa and Garoppolo both got hurt and those injuries wrecked their seasons. Now they're back, with a new QB on the horizon, and I like their chances to be more like the 2019 team than the 2020 team."

Last week, King noted that the improved quarterback depth also had a lot to do with the confidence in San Francisco's roster for the upcoming season.

"In two of the last three years, they have had to play the majority of the season with a scrub quarterback," King said while speaking with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. "And so, at this point, I think the quarterbacks will make all the difference."

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