The Atlanta Falcons continue to act like nothing’s wrong with Julio Jones, but his decision to skip mandatory minicamp tells us otherwise.
It may not be time for Falcons fans to panic over the status of wide receiver Julio Jones, but it’s certainly time for them to start paying attention. The star’s decision to skip the team’s mandatory minicamp this week clearly illustrates there’s some real tension between the Falcons and Jones.
Predictably, the team elected to put out a statement in an attempt to proactively quell speculation. GM Thomas Dimitroff characterized discussions between the Falcons and Jones and his representatives as “productive and constructive.” Unfortunately for the team, he was forced to follow that up by admitting that Jones’ decision to skip minicamp was “not ideal.”
The truth is it wasn’t difficult to see all this coming. Jones decision to delete all social media related to the Falcons this summer was the first clue provided to the public. That’s not something a player typically does on a whim. Both Jones and the team tried to minimize speculation about that very public act, but it’s now very apparent it was the first salvo in this conflict.
The second warning sign should have been Jones’ decision to work out privately with Terrell Owens this summer. Being around a selfish personality like that was always likely to affect Jones mindset in some way. It seems that it played a part in convincing Jones to really put pressure on the Falcons.
In fairness to both sides, each have taken a pretty logical position on the issue of a new contract for Jones. The wide receiver and his representatives are correct that the deal he originally signed with the team has been rendered out of date by contracts signed by receivers this offseason. The idea that Julio Jones makes less than Sammy Watkins is pretty difficult to understand from a football perspective.
On the other hand, Dimitroff and the team have, at least, intimate publicly that they’re willing to discuss a new contract for their dominant wideout. We don’t know exactly what sort of terms they’re willing to offer, but you have to expect it’s an upgrade over what he’s making now. The real question is whether or not the Falcons’ front office is willing to make Jones the highest paid player in the NFL at his position.
If they are, this situation should get resolved pretty quickly. The fact that it’s drug on this long tends to indicate that the team isn’t enthusiastic about that proposition. No one knows exactly how negotiations are going at the moment, but it’s clear this is a real issue that should be watched closely moving forward. Things between Jones and the Falcons are nowhere near perfect.