In an offseason full of blockbuster trades, Julio Jones is the latest NFL star on the move. The Falcons agreed on Sunday to send the seven-time Pro Bowl selectee a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Titans in exchange for 2022 second-round and 2023 fourth-round selections.
That said, which offseason trade will be the most impactful in the 2021 season?
I love that Titans GM Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel went out and landed Julio Jones. Not only will Jones help A.J. Brown, who models his game after the two-time All-Pro, become a more dominant player but he'll change the way opponents defend the Titans' offense. With King Henry in the backfield, the Titans have a pick-your-poison attack. If defenses stack the box in an attempt to stop the run, Ryan Tannehill will take advantage of Brown and Julio winning one-on-one matchups on the outside. If defenses focus on the passing attack, Henry and the run game will pound the football right at them.
I've talked all offseason about how much I loved the Rams' acquisition of Matthew Stafford. He's an experienced quarterback who possesses an elite skill set. Plug him into Sean McVay's offense with a talented supporting cast, and Stafford instantly becomes a top MVP candidate while elevating the Rams into a legit title contender.
Orlando Brown manning Patrick Mahomes' blindside -- how does it get more impactful than that? As we saw in Super Bowl LV, Mahomes made some of the most spectacular non-plays in recent memory with absolutely no help from his O-line, executing magical throws that bounced off his receivers' hands and facemasks. With the trade for Brown, along with other moves the Chiefs made in free agency and the draft, Kansas City made sure its star quarterback has help, which once again makes the team a Super Bowl favorite.
Carson Wentz moving to Indianapolis will be impactful for both parties. He gets a chance to resurrect his career under his former offensive coordinator, Frank Reich, and the Colts become a Super Bowl contender with an upgrade at the quarterback position. It's a win-win.
It's very fair to say the Titans' acquisition of Julio Jones could be the most impactful, given the fact that Tennessee essentially replaced free-agent departure Corey Davis with Jones, but I'm leaning toward the most important position in sports for this one. The Rams' offense didn't exactly meet its peak potential in 2020, and Sean McVay's displeasure with Jared Goff afterward told us all we needed to know. The decision to replace Goff with Matthew Stafford increases Los Angeles' chances of reaching said potential. Instead of fighting through Goff's weaknesses to guide the Rams toward becoming a more viable NFL offense, McVay can now trust that he has a better-equipped and more experienced quarterback in Stafford to execute his vision. Now it's just a matter of doing the job over the course of a (hopefully healthy) season, and reflecting once the dust settles.
I'm also taking the Matthew Stafford trade. The veteran passer will immediately elevate the Rams' offense and take Sean McVay's scheme to a level we haven't seen. This acquisition makes Los Angeles a contender.
Orlando Brown to the Chiefs is easily the most impactful trade of the offseason, especially considering his primary job is protecting the blindside of the league's best player, Patrick Mahomes. Having watched Brown -- son of the late, great Orlando "Zeus" Brown Sr. -- since his sophomore year at Oklahoma, I can't find a defender (including Nick Bosa, T.J. Watt and Myles Garrett) who is strong enough to run through him or quick enough to run around him. With Brown at left tackle, the Chiefs are once again Super Bowl favorites.