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Julio Jones deal may get done quickly with Michael Thomas locked up

They may be in different boats, but they’re large boats.

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

Julio Jones and his contract talks may not be in the same boat with Michael Thomas and Amari Cooper, but it’s pretty clear that now that we know the rough outline of MT’s mega-extension, we’ll soon know what Julio’s going to get.

Thomas just became the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL and got the most new guaranteed money for a non-QB in NFL history, as Adam Schefter reported. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the merits of this deal except to say that while Thomas is a great receiver and a perfect fit for this offense with Drew Brees, I’d be hard-pressed to argue that he’s better than, say, Julio, Odell Beckham Jr. DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and even Stefon Diggs. He’s certainly not better at breaking up interceptions.

It’s possible that the Saints starting using him as more than, as SB Nation’s Charles McDonald memorably put it this morning, a “tall Jarvis Landry”, but if they do not do so this contract probably will end up feeling a bit rich down the line. It’s quibbling, though, given that Thomas is undeniably one of the ten best receivers in football and essential for the Saints.

The market has been set for the deals to come. Julio Jones was adamant in recent comments to the press that he and his team weren’t waiting around for Thomas to cash in to help figure out their next move, but if Julio’s gunning to be the highest-paid receiver in football, he now has a benchmark to point to. If he’s content to come in a little under that, at least both sides know where Thomas landed. And so on. It can’t hurt the efforts to push this thing over the finish line, is what I’m saying.

Julio, of course, can easily ask for the money. He’s got a longer history of production than Thomas—I know the touchdowns are a sticking point for many, but the Falcons also have more options to spread the ball around to than, say, the Saints or Texans—and is one of the premier big play threats in football. He’s coming off a stellar season where he posted the second-best receptions, yardage, and touchdown totals of his career, he’s played in 62 of a possible 64 games over the past four seasons, and he’s shown absolutely no signs of slowing down. One suspects the Falcons will get as creative as they can with structure because their cap is going to be brutal in the near future, but the deal’s getting done, and Julio will be either the highest-paid or one of the highest-paid men in football again.

It’s just a question of when, and with the MT deal done, look for it to happen in the next couple of weeks.