We don’t know how close Julio Jones’ camp and the Atlanta Falcons are to figuring out a new deal. Mike Freeman at Bleacher Report had reported that the team and #11 were close, but beyond that we’ve gotten no indication either way.
Fortunately for us and all parties involved, Julio Jones does not appear to be in a hurry. Here’s the latest from Vaughn McClure at ESPN, who captures Jones appearing completely unbothered by the current pace.
“Me, personally, I don’t really care about as far as being the highest-paid receiver, man,” Jones said. “It’s a number. We’ve got some other guys on the team. If we can do it in a way to get all the other guys to stay on the team ... it’s a lot of ways you can do money.”
We heard some reassuring words early in last offseason, too, mixed in with the occasional worrying report. Ultimately, the team sort of addressed the contract and promised to do the heavy lifting this offseason, and for all the panic about Julio missing offseason work with the team, he put together one of the best seasons of his career for the Falcons, complete with eight touchdowns. I’m hoping the two sides will have this thing buttoned up sooner than later for everyone’s peace of mind, but it’s a very good sign that Julio is not (and almost as a rule, does not) publicly putting additional pressure on a franchise with a lot of big contracts to negotiate now and in the immediate future.
Oh, and he will probably miss some offseason work (not the mandatory stuff), so maybe get ready for that now.
Jones hinted at being away from the team again this year during the voluntary offseason program, which includes organized team activities. The Falcons are scheduled to start the offseason program April 15. Organized team activities begin May 20.
”I’m just working on me right now,” Jones said. “I’ve got a great relationship with the organization. I’m just working on me. That’s it. It’s no set time where I need to be in-house. Mandatory stuff, I’ll be there. As long as I’m training, they understand it.”
As a fan of the Atlanta Falcons and of great football players in general, I’ve learned to hold two thoughts in my head at once. The first is that Antonio Brown was right to pursue a better opportunity and try to earn more money with a team that would genuinely appreciate him, and the second is that I’m damn glad that Julio Jones hasn’t done the same and appears to have no interest in doing so, given how messy that exit would be and how important he is to the offense. There just aren’t a lot of players like Julio out there, and in the constant churn of transactions and justified frustration with this team’s fortunes, it’s easy to lose sight of how fortunate this team is to have him.
Now we just wait to see what this new megadeal looks like, and what kind of seasons are ahead for Julio in his age-30 year and beyond.