Well, it doesn’t look like Julio Jones will be joining the Falcons for June’s minicamp after all.
Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff announced that Jones has informed the team he, indeed, will opt not to join in for the week’s practices.
“We have been in contact with Julio and his representation. We will not discuss those conversations publicly except to say we feel they have been productive and constructive. We understand the concerns and thoughts from their perspective. Although not ideal, Julio informed us today he would not be attending mini-camp.
”We have much respect for him and what he means to our team, our city and our fans.”
With the news, it appears Jones and the organization might be headed into a bit of a staring contest when it comes to getting Julio a new deal before training camp begins.
Reports surfaced last month that Jones was reportedly angling for an extension to make him one of the highest-paid players in the league at his position, and he skipped the team’s OTAs, instead choosing to train on his own.
He’s been spending a good amount of time with Hall of Fame WR Terrell Owens, which is, according to Pro Football Talk, something the team has taken note of.
There’s a wild card in this equation, which per a league source has gotten the team’s attention. Jones has been working out with Terrell Owens, who wasn’t afraid to do what he had to do to get fairly compensated. Most recently, the duo was spotted in L.A., catching passes from new USC quarterback J.T. Daniels.
Not to connect dots just to connect them, but one wonders if Owens has inspired Jones to play a little leverage to be able to get the extension sooner than later. The Falcons don’t typically make these kinds of deals, but they don’t typically have a talent like Jones to consider. Owens was legendary for his contract situations, and was never afraid to hold out for a new deal. Perhaps he’s taught Julio how to play hardball.
Make no mistake; this deal is going to get done one way or the other. You have to wonder that if Julio had come to minicamp, and had gotten focused on the season, the team might’ve gotten away with putting this extension off for another year. But, now, Jones has made his move.
The Falcons are going to have to make a corresponding one, and we all know what that move will be. Watch for this to get settled sometime within the next month or so.
With offensive improvements and timing concerns a focus going into training camp, you don’t want to get caught playing chicken with your all-time best offensive weapon. Julio is going to get paid, and he might’ve just made the move to ensure it’s now, as opposed to down the road. He’s been the best teammate and employee the Falcons could’ve asked for, but sometimes, business is business.
Remember, the Falcons won’t get sentimental when the day comes Jones is not able to do it anymore, particularly if he’s still on a deal. Welcome to the other side of football.
His old pal and Falcons legend Roddy White weighed in on the situation earlier Monday via Vaughn McClure at ESPN.
“It’s a tough situation, especially for him because he just signed a deal three years ago,” White said, “but the numbers would tell you he’s way, way, way outplayed being paid the amount of money that they’ve given him.
”A lot of times, you don’t want to rub people the wrong way. On the other hand, when people look at the numbers and start stacking them up against people that are making more money than him, then it verifies that he should be paid a lot more money. Yes, he deserves to be the highest-paid [receiver]. I think he does, based on performance. For me, that’s a no-brainer.”
“For your best player, how far as you willing to go?” White said. “Do you want him to be happy or do you want him there looking around the league saying, ‘I can’t believe every week I have to go out and do this and this guy is over here making $17 million per year, and he ain’t do nothing I have to go out there and do.’”
As McClure notes, White actually held out from training camp one year to get his first extension. So, that’s two people close to Jones who could be advising him to stand pat until he gets what he’s deserved.
Well see how this saga unfolds, but be careful about getting too worried. Training camp is when the holdout would start to matter. We’re still in “eh, they’ll live” mode.
But, hey, this only means rookie Calvin Ridley will get plenty of time to grow into his own this coming week, so watch for that to be a fun storyline to follow in Jones’ absence.