What do the Tennessee Titans do with Julio Jones this offseason?

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

The Tennessee Titans offense is set for a massive overhaul, and all options are on the table. One option that isn’t being talked about is potentially cutting Julio Jones.

There are a few things to clarify first. Trading for Julio Jones was the right option when the Tennessee Titans pulled the trigger last year. The idea was that he would be a better version of what Corey Davis had given them the year before, but the gamble was always going to be on him getting healthier and not getting more injured.

Secondly, the Tennessee Titans had the most injured team in NFL history last season and there is no reason to expect that they are going to be that unlucky again. Maybe Julio Jones isn’t going to be one of the players with a healthy season, but their injury luck just can’t be that bad next season.

When he was healthy, Julio Jones was an impact player and you could argue that he was the driving factor in an overtime win vs the Seattle Seahawks that set the tone for the rest of the season for both the Titans and the Seahawks.

Finally, just because you traded a 2nd round pick for Julio shouldn’t mean that you double down on that decision if you think there is something to be gained from moving on.

Tennessee Titans need to look into this contract loophole

If the Tennessee Titans cut Julio Jones right now, they would still pay him over $13 million next season and the move would only free up $1.1 million in cap space.

Can the Titans find a better receiver than Julio Jones for $1 million? No, so cutting him doesn’t make any sense…at least cutting him like that doesn’t make any sense.

NFL teams have to be under the cap by the start of the league year which is the start of free agency (4 pm EST on March 16). Because of the way that some contracts are structured and to help give teams more flexibility in free agency, the NFL created the “June 1st” rule.

Mike Tannenbaum explained what that means in this article about creating cap space, but essentially it allows you to spread out bonuses across two years instead of one while opening up cap space. Twice a year you can use this rule to cut a player in March while designating him as a post-June 1st cut.

What does that mean for the Titans’ cap? Well here are the cap space numbers for 2022 and 2023 to show you why a June 1st designation would be massive over a regular cut (all numbers thanks to Over the Cap) :

2022 (regular cut): $-7.2 million

2023 (regular cut): $73.4 million

2022 (post-June 1): $1.2 million ($8.4 million more)

2023 (post-June 1): $65 million ($8.4 million less)

In short, it would give the Titans $8.4 million to spend this year while pushing that $8.4 million in dead cap to 2023 when the salary cap is projected to be $15 million higher. Since a dollar in 2022 is worth more than a dollar in 2023, this should be a no-brainer.

If the Titans wanted to create a massive amount of cap, they could use the June 1st rule on Julio and cut (or preferably trade) Taylor Lewan, Rodger Saffold, Kendall Lamm, Brett Kern, Jackrabbit Jenkins, and restructure Zach Cunningham.

That would give them $44 million in cap space for 2022 without creating a need other than needing a new punter. That is enough money to comfortably secure Harold Landry and take another swing in free agency like maybe a young playmaking tight end like Mike Gesicki who is rumored to be connected to Tennessee.

Then in the draft spend a top-100 pick on a receiver and you have three pass catchers who are 26 or younger and can eat while teams focus on Derrick Henry.