The Atlanta Falcons literally sold the farm to draft Julio Jones in 2011. It was a move that shocked the NFL. The true impact of trading away five draft picks, two of them first rounders, in order to land Jones is hard to quantify. But given his dynamic skill set and game changing ability, it's arguable Jones was worth it already. Assuming he hasn't already peeked, it will be patently obvious the Falcons made the right call ... if he still plays for them.
If there's a knock on Jones, it's his sometimes tenuous health. But let's be honest, that's not unheard of with wide receivers. As you know, he is only under contract for one more season. The Falcons picked up his fifth year option in 2014 and he will make just north of $10 million in 2015. Sooner or later, the Falcons have a hard decision to make. Either they pay Jones or they don't. If they do try to re-sign him, it's going to cost them. A lot.
As you may have heard, Jeremy Maclin signed a free agent deal with the Chiefs this week. It's five year, $55 million deal, with $22 million guaranteed. In other words, he just got paid. Maclin's contract is team-friendly in 2015, when he will only count $3.4 million against the cap. But that number jumps considerably over the next four seasons.
Jeremy Maclin's 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019 salary cap numbers are $3.4M, $12.4M, $12.4M, $13.4M & $13.4M.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) March 11, 2015
It begs a question: if Maclin got that much money, what's Jones' market value? To be frank, that's a complicated question. Jones was arguably a top five wide receiver last season. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the sixth highest rated wide receiver in the league last season. Without a doubt, he was better than Maclin, who didn't even crack the top ten. There's no way Maclin's deal will trump Jones' deal. It's simply not going to happen.
Let's be clear, Maclin's deal isn't the best wide receiver contract in the league, but it does change the market. It means Jones will certainly want something north of $10 million a year in base salary. He's also going to want a significant chunk of guaranteed money. Is he a luxury worth breaking the bank for? Maybe. But then again, maybe not.
Look at the Seattle Seahawks. They were one bad play call from the Superbowl victory in February, and they won it all in 2013. They made it that far without a single 1,000 yard receiver. Dan Quinn is going to emphasize defense, and if he's intimately involved with shaping the roster, will he be on board with such a lucrative contract? There's reason to think he won't, even if that means Jones signs elsewhere.
In the end, this isn't really Maclin's fault. But heck, we've gotta blame someone.