Buccaneers: Julio Jones departure propels Tampa even higher in NFC S

Julio Jones, opponent of the Buccaneers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Julio Jones, opponent of the Buccaneers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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The Buccaneers are saying good riddance to Julio Jones.

In a movie similar to Luke Kuechly’s retirement a while back, Julio Jones leaving the Falcons is another welcomed move by the rest of the NFL South. Ian Rapoport Tweeted the news earlier today, but it looks like the deal is close to done. The Buccaneers were already the favorites in the division before this trade, but this just makes life that much easier.

Jones was a force of nature during his career against the Bucs. Tampa’s weak secondary for the past decade aligned poorly with the emergence of a Hall of Fame talent like Jones, and Bucs fans had a front-row seat to a wide receiver clinic each time the Falcons came to town.

Now, the Falcons have lost one of their best offensive players of all time, they received little compensation in return, and a full-on rebuild has begun in Atlanta.

This decision comes after the surprising selection of Kyle Pitts in the first round of the draft rather than a quarterback. Pitts himself wasn’t the surprise, but the decision to take him and move on from Jones makes little sense if it was done in the name of competing now.

Without Jones, the Falcons don’t have the offensive weapons to keep up with most of their opponents in the division, even with Pitts, and they missed out on a future quarterback option like Justin Fields for a tight end to add to a star-studded offense.

Pitts could be an excellent addition for the Falcons in the long term, but Jones is a top-notch receiving option that will be missed desperately. Had the Falcons received a quality haul of picks back, this trade may have worked out better, but only receiving a second falls short for a player like Jones.

The Falcons needed the cap relief and didn’t really have a chance to keep Jones, but this move still makes the outlook much better for the Buccaneers in these games going forward.

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It will be a few years before Atlanta back is being a competitor at this rate, but it was already going to be a difficult prospect to keep up with Tampa on the current track that both teams are on.

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