The fracas surrounding Falcons star WR Julio Jones and his effort to get a new contract before training camp has a, ahem, Player involved that’s quite unexpected.
Incoming Hall of Fame wideout Terrell Owens was reported in April to be working out with Jones this offseason, initially just seen as buddies spending time with buddies.
Once the contract holdout began, that’s who Julio was seen spending the most time with, and inquiring minds began to come to conclusions. That includes the Falcons, who reportedly became unsettled by T.O.’s potential influence on the Jet.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman touched on the ongoing Jones contract saga in his weekly column, and reached out to Owens to get his take on the situation. He denies any culpability to being the impetus behind Jones’ holdout.
“I have no idea where all of this is coming from,” Owens told me this week. “I have nothing to do with Julio except training. This is the media trying [to] create something that’s not even there. It’s very unfortunate. What possible reason would they have to create that narrative?”
In fairness to Owens, there is no concrete piece of evidence suggesting that he has directly influenced Jones to seek more money on his deal. We do know the Falcons feel uneasy about Owens’ potential influence, and connect the dots ourselves to think T.O., who struggled with contracts throughout his career and was no stranger to the holdout, would be in Julio’s ear, recommending he go down the same path to get justly compensated now.
That’s not to say he hasn’t, but at least publicly, Owens is absolving himself from that part of it. And, Freeman’s thesis is correct: Jones is the one calling the shots here, and this is his decision. He’s no pawn in a grander scheme. Even if T.O. might’ve nudged him in this direction, it’s Julio who chose to hold out and correct his annual pay.
So, for now, T.O. is claiming he’s not privy to any of this. Duly noted.
Freeman also gives a confirmation to the D. Orlando Ledbetter report that the relationship between the team and Jones isn’t in the best of spots, and reaffirms the root cause to all of this.
First: Jones wants more money, and he skipped minicamp to get more money. This is a fact.
Second: The relationship between Jones and the Falcons is strained. League sources have told me this for weeks. It can be repaired, but for now, there’s tension. This is a fact.
Third: All of this has absolutely nothing to do with anything but Jones’ relationship with the team and the money he should be getting paid. This is a fact.
This paints as clear of a picture as we’ve had in this situation. Julio wants a new deal; the Falcons and Jones aren’t on the same page with that at all; it’s causing some noticeable friction between the two parties; it can be resolved once the money shows up.
So, now, we just wait and see who blinks first. Jones could opt to wait until 2019 to see the Odell Beckham Jr. deal process through and up that likely-record-breaking number. But, Julio will be 30 by the time 2019 negotiations roll around, which the team could use against him to save a little dough. That would not help the relationship.
The team could get nervous and pay Jones now to make sure he gets all his training camp snaps. That’s where Julio’s leverage would come into play, and would be the best outcome at the moment. Bridges get repaired much sooner through that route.
It’s hard to tell when this will exactly end, but we know how. Whether it be tomorrow or sometime next summer, the Falcons are going to have to pay Julio.