As I’m sure you’re aware by now, Falcons WR Julio Jones has opted to hold out of the team’s training camp until he gets an adjustment to his deal.
The NFL insiders make it seem like he’s more than happy with sitting out as long as it takes to get this done, which basically locks the Jet and the team into a staring contest to see who blinks first. So, now, we’ll wait to see who holds, and who folds.
So, what does this mean for the team past the obvious idea that they won’t have Jones around for training camp? Well, it’s not doomsday, though it will have them change around a few things to accommodate the absence.
Let’s discuss the things we know will happen.
Calvin Ridley will get plenty of first-team practice snaps
It goes without saying that Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu will now be the face of the receiver’s room while Jones is away, and will bounce around in his usual spot and in Jones’ spot as the WR1. This means rookie Calvin Ridley is about to see his snaps increase substantially, with the team able to give him even more to do on first-team practice runs.
It’s going to be imperative he learn, and learn fast, what to do in the NFL if this offense is to get back to being a bear. Ridley will maybe even get some early first receiver reps with Matt Ryan in practice, which will only further cement their chemistry on the field.
So, there’s a good chance we’ll see an Alabama receiver getting much-needed first-team reps in practice over the next few weeks. It just, er, won’t be, well, that receiver.
The Falcons may have to bite their tongues on reworking deal
The team opened themselves up to the possibility that they wouldn’t have Jones in camp when they didn’t work to get this done earlier in the summer.
While there are arguments to be made as to why Jones should wait for 2019 to settle this, there are also arguments to be made as to why he’s right to go ahead and take care of this now. Hindsight is 20/20, so don’t blame Jones for not wanting to risk a bad 2018 injury (*knock on wood*) to keep him from the money he’s deserved.
If the Falcons want him in camp, they know what they’ll have to do. It might not be exactly what they were hoping. It might be exactly where they wanted this to go, in order to make it seem like they exhausted all other options (that’s just speculation, fwiw).
Jones had come too far — missing OTAs and June minicamp should’ve been enough indication that he wasn’t going to show up. The Falcons have had time to prepare for this scenario. Unless the Jet has a change of heart as training camp gets going, he’s going to stick to his original plan and hold out until this is settled.
He’s had the leverage all along — himself. The Falcons can’t go magically find another Julio Jones anywhere.
The offense will be fine, but it’d be better if he were here
Jones missing reps isn’t going to be much of a net loss in the long-term, and it’s doubtful him missing will prevent the net-positives. It’s just not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.
Still, Jones missing is not going to help the offense. The holdout will do no favors for the offense trying to make major upticks. They need him in practice to learn these new wrinkles. It might not take him but a couple of days to get acclimated, which makes him missing these early portions almost pointless.
Remember Jones missed a lot of camp last season with injury and was still Julio Jones all last year sans a few errors on the deep ball. There’s no logical reason to think that this somehow sinks the offense from being great, but you can’t say this is great for the moment. They’ll want him back sooner than later to make sure everyone is on the same page.
The Falcons still need Jones back
For the offense to be as crisp as possible, of course Jones will need to be present for at least some of the summer. The offense needs everyone in practice at all times for it to be the best it can be.
So, that’s what we’ve got.
An air of caution about getting too worked up on this: Jones is not going to miss a game. That’s a line that few ever cross in the NFL, and Jones, while firm, won’t cross that one. (The editors of the Falcoholic will ask Cory to stop tempting fate like this. -Ed.)
If the team is willing to have Jones miss the entire summer and preseason just to wait to get this done in 2019, they’ll get their wish. But, at the end of the day, they know they need him back here sooner than later. So, we’ll see how this progresses.