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Julio Jones skips start of voluntary OTAs amid contract negotiations

The league’s best wide receiver sat out voluntary OTAs and the start of minicamp last season before he was given a pay bump.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Players started reporting Monday for the start of organized team activities and there is one notable missing player. Actually, there are probably multiple notable missing players as OTAs are voluntary and veterans tend to prepare away from team HQ. OTAs are primarily workouts that are regulated and limited by the CBA. It helps some players get back into the groove, but it is possible some stay away to prepare more than allowed at OTAs.

The notable player, for the second year in a row, is Julio Jones. Per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones did not report to Flowery Branch on Monday. Also of interest is Ledbetter noting that Jones was “promised” a new deal this offseason.

First, Jones skipped at least some OTAs in 2018 and 2017, and he was still consistently dominant on a week-to-week basis. Jones eventually missed out on a few days of mandatory minicamp last offseason, but was never out of shape or otherwise struggled with his playbook. In fact, it is common for veteran, Pro Bowl-quality players to consistently skip OTAs and workout elsewhere.

Second, we have heard the team informed Julio they planned to get an extension done this offseason, but “promised” is a strong word . Still, it is becoming frustrating to see the Falcons express optimism about contract extensions that continue to linger.

Grady Jarrett should have been extended before free agency, if not last season. The Falcons have been confident a deal will be worked out, and two months ago a bad rumor suggested the team was “closing in” on a deal that has still yet to materialize.

For whatever reason, we have another offseason of contract extensions dragging far longer than they should. It is still early enough but Julio’s absence suggests they are not “closing in” on a deal. The Falcons may have again hurt themselves by allowing another market-setting deal go through when Antonio Brown netted nearly $30 million guaranteed across three years, with a total of potential cash just above $50 million.

Odds are a deal gets worked out and this situation is quickly forgotten. At the same time, an unnecessary holdout could create a giant headache for the mostly new coaching staff needing to get this team to the playoffs.