The Falcons have just paid QB Matt Ryan a pretty penny to extend him for the foreseeable future, and they’ve got other extensions to get done on the horizon, with guys like Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews and Ricardo Allen all in line to get paid.
It’s not the most enjoyable time for a team to have to dole out so much money, but it keeps guys on the field on Sundays for years to come.
One name that hasn’t been brought up in the extension conversation as of late is star WR Julio Jones, but we probably should’ve seen this coming, considering what Jones is set to make over the next few seasons.
ESPN’s Vaughn McClure dropped a hint in his latest depth chart review as to where Julio’s head might be in terms of his contract.
Jones appears to be angling for a raise this offseason after watching other top receivers get paid more than him.
Looking at Jones’ current deal, you can see why this might be a problem.
Right now, he’s set to make $12,900,000 for his play this season, which, certainly, is a lot of money. That’ll bump up to $14,900,000 in 2019, which is a good salary for a top receiver...when his contract was stuck in 2015.
But, sadly, we are in 2018, and that’s not the going rate for star receivers anymore.
In 2020, Jones’ last year on his deal with the Falcons, he is set to only make $11,426,000, which would have him coming in as one of the bargain salary hits in the league for the position and what he brings to it.
Spoiler alert: that’s not going to stick.
Mike Evans is one of the most recent receivers to get a big deal, and his came in at five years, $82.5 million. He and Jones share a division, and any dude would tell you who the better player is. Evans is going to make $18.258 million this season, and $20 million the next. Now, that number drops more to where Jones’ deal is for the Falcons as time goes on, but you can push the chips in to bet that Jones saw that deal, and began to get a little curious as to how to elevate his salary to that mark.
Also consider DeAndre Hopkins, and his recent extension of five years, $81 million. He will make $18 million in 2018 before seeing his numbers go between $14 and $15 million over the next few seasons.
Jones is a better player than both of those guys, and you can bet your bottom dollar he won’t let that 2020 cap hit stand. Right now, he’s only the eighth-highest paid receiver in the league annually, with Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown topping the list at averaging $17 million a season. No doubt Julio knows who he often contends with in the “best receiver” conversation, and would want his annual salary to match that.
Brown just signed his extension last year, for four years and $68 million. His cap hit will balloon to $22, $18 and $19 million over the next three seasons after only taking a little of this deal up front in 2017 and 2018 (he only counts $8 million this season against the cap).
To be honest, the Falcons would be wise to get this taken care of before Odell Bechkam Jr. strikes it rich with the Giants, or whoever he plays for next if the G-Men don’t want to pay him. Bechkam Jr. will no doubt set the new bar when his time comes.
Jones isn’t the type to hold out for a deal, so look for this to go civilly as possible. But, to be honest, this would complicate things a little down the road with other extensions coming up. Ryan’s deal didn’t really worry me, but paying Ryan and Julio $45-50 million a season here soon could get a little tricky. Not lose super-key players tricky, but let go of nice depth pieces tricky, and there will probably be some hard decisions about a handful starters going forward.
But, don’t fret. A raise would be a lock to be an extension as well, so any new deal would just keep Jones in Atlanta longer, which is a plus in our books.
We’ll see how this all plays out, but don’t be surprised if the one of the next big deals to come out of Flowery Branch is for the Jet.