The Falcons talked a big game about not giving Julio Jones a new contract, but the front office is already moving to get him more money.
Credit Julio Jones for playing his situation with the Falcons just right. Team officials have been adamant that they won’t give their star receiver a new contract this summer. Suddenly, after Jones decided to skip training camp the team seems to have changed their tune.
The Falcons aren’t necessarily going to rip up Jones’ deal and replace it with a new one, but they are open to the idea of helping him earn more money in 2018. NFL Media reports that team officials are “hopeful” they can get something done with Jones and his representatives soon. That means the team will need to pay Jones more than the $10.5 million he’s due this season.
The most likely outcome is that the two sides will come together on an adjustment to his current contract. The Falcons will need to put incentives in the deal that Jones is likely to reach to help him earn a higher salary in 2018. Jones is arguably the best wideout in football but is only scheduled to be the 13th highest paid player at his position this season.
Atlanta officials will be lucky if this is all they are forced to do. Jones has every reason to ask for an entirely new deal. The contract he signed three years ago is simply outdated. The organization has already shown they are willing to hand out big money deals to their stars. They made Matt Ryan the highest paid quarterback in the league this summer.
Jones is a better wide receiver than Ryan is quarterback. That doesn’t mean he should be given a contract equal to Ryan’s, but he does deserve to be one of the highest paid receivers in the NFL. If the Falcons aren’t willing to make that happen they may ultimately be forced to deal him to a franchise who’s willing to pay him that kind of money.
Losing Jones would be disastrous for this offense. Ryan is an excellent quarterback, but his effectiveness would drop significantly without a top-notch receiver to utilize. Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu are good players, but neither is in Jones’ league.
The good news here for Falcons fans is that the organization is already changing their position. Their willingness to negotiate makes it very likely Jones will end up in camp sooner, rather than later. Playing hardball with their best wide receiver would be a big mistake for the Falcons. It doesn’t look like they’re headed down that treacherous path.