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Brandin Cooks extension strengthens Julio Jones’ position in future contract talks

The Rams signed the newly-acquired receiver to a long-term deal, and the numbers add leverage to Julio’s argument this offseason or next.

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New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

While Julio Jones waits, another wide receiver gets paid.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Rams inked receiver Brandin Cooks to a long-term extension, keeping him in LA until the 2023 season. The five-year deal is worth $80 million, and will elevate his annual salary to an average of $16 million in 2019. The extension — signed before Cooks has played a down for the Rams — makes him one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL, and lends further credence to Julio Jones’ argument for a new contract.

Cooks’ deal will certainly be cited by Julio’s representation as yet another comparative benchmark in their case for Jones, along with the lucrative annual figures extended to Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Browns wide-out Jarvis Landry. Those men are slated to rake in $16 million and $15.1 million per-year, respectively.

As for Julio? His current contract nets him an average of $14.25 million annually.

Julio Jones is unquestionably a better receiver than the latter two, and with Cooks’ extension, Julio has gained added leverage on his side of the negotiating table. Brandin Cooks is a vaunted weapon on a Los Angeles offense chock-full of them, but if you glance at the numbers objectively, it’s difficult to disagree with Julio’s desire for an increased annual salary. The wide receiver market has shifted, and Atlanta’s offensive superstar wants in — looking at the comparative receiving yards, you can see why.

Julio Jones has eclipsed 1,400 yards each and every year that Brandin Cooks has been in the NFL, and has only missed three games across that span. Jones has also dominated Cooks in receptions through 2014-2017, and it’s not remotely close.

Where Cooks has an advantage over Jones is, of course, in touchdown production — but only the 2017 differential really stands out.

What does this all mean? It means that if I’m Julio Jones’ agent, I’m gleefully popping all of these facts and figures into an updated PowerPoint presentation and scheduling a meeting with Dimitroff & Co. as quickly as possible. The numbers don’t lie: Julio Jones is due for a raise.

The problem, as Jeff Schultz with The Athletic reported last night, is that the team doesn’t seem inclined to give him one this offseason. We won’t know for certain until camp opens next week, but Schultz indicates that the team has decided not to amend Jones’ contract at all this year, which means Julio and his agent will need to bring Cooks’ contract (and this argument) back to them in the spring of 2019.

Now whether that results in a restructured contract or a sparkly new deal is a matter of speculation. Either way, Jones’ holdout continues, and with Cooks’ recent payday, he only gained further leverage in his quest for more cash.