Julio Jones: Decision to part ways with Falcons was mutual

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones stretches during NFL football practice Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones stretches during NFL football practice Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn.

Credit: AP Photo/George Walker IV

Credit: AP Photo/George Walker IV

Former Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones shed some light on how the franchise’s all-time leading receiver in catches and receiving yards was traded when he addressed the media for the first time Thursday.

ExploreNashville looks upon Julio Jones as a key to the promised land

Jones, who was called a “Falcon for Life” by owner Arthur Blank during a couple of negotiations, was traded to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Jones was asked how the relationship with the team soured to the point where he was traded.

“Yeah, that’s me and the Falcons. We have an agreement at the end of the day,” Jones said in response to a question from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We discussed everything. We just made the decision. It was just cut and dry. There was nothing toward football, it’s business. So, you just had to accept whatever happens, happens. Like I said, it was a mutual agreement on it. We just split up.”

Jones requested a trade in March, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the AJC.

Jones, who was drafted with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft, starred for the Falcons for 10 seasons. A seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Jones said the firing of former coach Dan Quinn after five games last season was not a factor in the trade.

“No, no,” Jones said to the AJC’s follow-up question. “It wasn’t (anything) to do with Dan Quinn or the firing of Dan Quinn or anything like that. It was just that, like I said, we came to an agreement. We made the decision, and we are here now. I’m here in Nashville. I’m excited to be here. Expect big things from us just by our effort and the way we are going to play the game.”

The Falcons received a second-round pick in 2022 and a fourth-round pick in 2023 for Jones. They also sent a sixth-round pick in 2023 to the Titans.

“As far as Julio, a great player,” Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage said. “I learned so much from him. Moving forward, we understand our role. We understand that it’s a business.”

Jones took his physical with the Titans on Monday and returned to Nashville on Wednesday. He took part in their OTAs on Thursday.

“Really have enjoyed his attitude in the interactions that I’ve had with him about our football team and about his willingness to come in here and learn how we do things,” Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said. “His impact obviously can help a lot of people.”

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs toward the end zone for a touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod (23) during the second half of an NFL football game in Atlanta, in this Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, file photo.  (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs toward the end zone for a touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod (23) during the second half of an NFL football game in Atlanta, in this Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, file photo. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Titans will focus on getting Jones up to speed.

“There are ways to do things with veteran players who have been successful in this league,” Vrabel said. “He can also try to explain things to younger players. Sometimes those are your best coaches. I’m sure he’ll provide some of that.”

With Jones, running back Derrick Henry, wide receiver A.J. Brown and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Titans’ Super Bowl odds improved from 40-to-1 to 25-to-1.

Jones opened the virtual news conference that included the Nashville media, ESPN and the New York Times by thanking Atlanta.

“It was home for me for the last decade,” Jones said. “The fan base, the Atlanta Falcons, the whole organization, without them, they gave me the opportunity to showcase my ability and what I can do and my absolute love for the game.”

Jones then expressed his affection for his new team and city.

“Being here at the Titans, I love it,” Jones said. “I’m very excited to be a part of this organization. Just the team camaraderie, just the whole atmosphere and everything here, just feels like when I was in college at the University of Alabama. It’s amazing here. That’s where I’m at right now. Had a great day today. Just finishing the workout. I’m excited about being here.”

Jones was slowed last season by a Grade 2 quad hamstring strain the caused him to miss seven games and major parts of two other games.

Jones, who turned 32 in February, insisted he can still play at a high level.

“I know what I have in the tank,” Jones said. “We’re talking about age, it’s 32. I’m young. In football you can say it’s old, but you either do it or you don’t. This game (doesn’t) change for me. I’m still fast. I’m still strong.”

Jones contended that he rushed back from the injury last season.

“To the games last year, I had an issue where I didn’t take enough time to heal up properly, but you know, that was just my decision, going out there and just playing,” Jones said. “No excuses, things like that. I’ll be ready to go. For those who are questioning my health and things like that, just stay tuned.”

Jones played 135 games for the Falcons and caught 848 passes for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns. He helped the team reach the playoffs four times, including a trip to Super Bowl LI.

The Falcons were in field-goal position to win the game after Jones made a spectacular catch from quarterback Matt Ryan along the right sideline. But the offense went backward after some questionable play-calling by then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and went on to lose 34-28 in overtime after holding a 28-3 lead.

“At the end of the day, Atlanta was amazing to me,” Jones said. “I’m obviously with my new team now. I’m excited to be here. That’s that as far as that situation. I loved it. The organization, my teammates, the fan base and everybody. I enjoyed my decade there. I’m on to a new chapter in my life.”

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones rests between drills during an NFL football practice Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (George Walker IV/Pool Photo via AP)
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones rests between drills during an NFL football practice Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (George Walker IV/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: George Walker IV

Credit: George Walker IV

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