During a preseason game that was otherwise notably free of Julio Jones, who is smartly sidelined until the games matter, we got a quasi-update on his contract status. I say quasi-update because there was nothing strictly new about it, but the team continues to have faith they’re close to getting a deal done.
I’m turning to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure for the quotes here because I was probably busy hammering away on the Del’Shawn Phillips section of my game recap, but Dimitroff did say one noteworthy thing: He knows that the team needs to make Julio the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, even if there are structural tweaks to make that more palatable for the Falcons in the end.
“That’s not a mystery. He will be, we know that,’’ Dimitroff said of Jones being the highest-paid WR. ``It’s just a matter of where it’s all going to land. ... I think it’s around the corner, of course. And he’ll be happy with what he gets.’’
Beyond that, Dimitroff stressed that nobody’s concerned about the lack of a contract to this point, let us all know there’s an offer out there to Julio’s camp, and made it sound like the negotiations will keep rolling along. It would not stun me if a deal was done this weekend and it would not stun me if the deal was done on the eve of the regular season, but unless it stretches past that and Julio grows restless, there’s no particular reason to worry.
What will be worth watching, of course, is the length of any deal and what it does to the team’s cap space this year and in the immediate future. The Falcons theoretically can be good as long as Matt Ryan’s under center and playing at a high level, but they urgently need to keep stockpiling quality young players who aren’t signed to massive deals, and they urgently need to keep their best receiving option happy. How they balance that will be much more interesting than the latest in a long line of updates that barely qualify as updates when it comes to contract negotiations.