Julio Jones probably has more guaranteed money on his deal this morning than he did just a day ago, though we have yet to see the details of his freshly sweetened contract. The Falcons probably got there without increasing Julio’s 2018 cap hit, and with their carefully laid plans for re-structured deals and new extensions in 2019 fully intact. Fans get to enjoy training camp without worrying about when and if #11 and the front office would be able to work something out.
All’s well that ends well, right? Right.
After being optimistic all offseason that the team and Jones would get something done, I’ll admit my faith was shaken a bit in recent days. With the team rhetorically digging in and Julio’s camp making it clear that a holdout was an option, it seemed like the two sides would have to bridge a pretty significant gap in a limited number of hours to ensure Julio was actually at camp. The likeliest solution, a re-working of Julio’s deal that didn’t blow up the cap this season or add additional years on to the deal, seemed like it might not happen.
Thankfully, it did. It happened at the 11th hour—the Falcons literally announced the re-worked deal at quarter to midnight on the day before players report—but it looks like that likeliest solution was the one the two sides ultimately agreed on. It’s very possible that both sides were grasping for a bit of leverage these last few days, though it was difficult to know that from the outside, but things never quite became poisonous between the two sides. That in and of itself is a sort of victory, given how often things involving money turn toxic.
Yes, everyone wins
From Julio’s perspective, he’s a big winner here, as he’s likely (and again, we don’t know the details yet) working with more incentives and guaranteed cash than he had before, and he has extracted a promise from the Falcons that they’ll re-work his deal with him during the 2019 offseason. By quietly but politely sticking to his guns and letting the team know a holdout was in the offing, he brought them to the table and got at least some of what he wanted, all from a position of relative weakness given that he has multiple years remaining on his deal.
The team’s victory fanfare is a bit more muted, but their #1 goal had to be to come out of this without sapping their remaining cap space or handing Julio a fresh extension with three seasons left on his deal. The former would have left them ill-equipped to deal with injuries or ineffectiveness this year, while the latter would have potentially opened the door for other players to re-work their deals with multiple years remaining. Ideally they would have forced Julio to play out the year with no changes, but given their focus on the Brotherhood, their stated intent to work with their star receiver, and the damage a holdout that dragged into the season could have done, it’s still a victory for the Falcons.
And the rest of us can breathe a sigh of relief, too. No matter where you stood on Julio’s contract and potential holdout, we can acknowledge that the team is better with him on the field, and this is a season filled with genuine promise. It may well be that next year’s contract talks wind up becoming a massive headache we all have to think about for months on end, but for the moment, all that remains is to look forward to the season and what will hopefully be a tremendous year from Julio.