Julio Jones is not getting the re-worked contract he desires this summer, per Jeff Schultz over at The Athletic. As our own Matthew Chambers wrote last night, many of us had sort of settled into the idea that some sort of deal was in the offing, which makes this at least a mild surprise.
It won’t come as a surprise to Julio Jones, however. Chances are he’s not hearing this for the first time from Schultz, and undoubtedly he’s either mulling or has already mulled what this means for Falcons training camp a week from now. With the team reportedly drawing a line in the sand and refusing to re-work his contract until after the 2018 season, Julio has to be considering whether a further holdout can change his situation or not. We fully expect him to suit up for the season—he’s not going to start losing game checks, and he’s way too competitive for that in the first place—but there’s still potential for this to drag further into the summer, and if this report is accurate, no chance of him getting that deal.
Will he show up? Here are some reasons to be optimism and pessimistic about that outcome.
Reasons for optimism
- Julio showed up to Matt Ryan’s passing camp. That’s a gesture of goodwill and a chance to get some work in, yes, but it may also indicate that after spending most of the offseason away from the team, Julio is ready to come back.
- If the Falcons have made it clear to Julio that they’re planning to re-work his deal following the 2018 season, then there’s a clear deadline to be met, which is (from everything we know) more than Jones had when he began his holdout. I don’t think Julio embarked on this contract quest to be told “wait until later,” but it’s possible that carrot is enough to get him into camp.
Reasons for pessimism
- The only card Julio has to play, leverage-wise, is to continue to hold out. If he’s adamant about getting some kind of alteration to his deal done this calendar year, Julio’s only real choice is to not show up, make this thing ugly and nerve-wracking for the team, and hope they break precedent and cave. Considering everyone was saying the right thing and both sides were talking earlier this summer and the Falcons still ultimately landed on doing nothing, I can’t say I’m optimistic about a continued holdout changing anything, but it’s really the only tool in the toolbox for #11.
- Even if he’s not hoping to force the team’s hand, taking a day, a few days or a week away from training camp still sends a strong message that Julio’s not happy with the way things have gone. That’s a salvo Julio, who doesn’t have much in the way of guaranteed money after this season, might be willing to fire.
My guess is that Julio’s holdout will be a short one, if he elects to continue it, given how close we’re getting to the season. Julio has done a nice job of remaining publicly amicable this entire time, but as Schultz noted in his piece, there’s little chance he’s happy the Falcons won’t budge and this is one very public way to say so. But after an offseason of guesswork about Julio’s intentions and holdouts, most of which have proven to be wrong after breaking reports like these, I’m done guessing.
As I’m hoping for a Super Bowl season for the Falcons and a healthy, great season from Julio Jones, I’ll just hope we can stop discussing this soon, either way.