A report on Monday indicated that the Falcons were on the verge of reaching an extension with receiver Julio Jones, but so far, no deal has been reached. That’s not indicative of the negotiations having gone south, however, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com (Twitter link), who also reports that any long-term contract is likely to pay Jones less than $14MM annually.
Thanks to recent deals signed by fellow pass-catchers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas, $14MM is the new standard for top-flight wide receivers. Based on talent alone, Jones is probably in the same class as those two WRs, but as PFR’s Luke Adams noted in his examination of Jones’ case for an extension, Jones has dealt with injuries during his career in a way that Bryant and Thomas have not. Plus, the Falcons still have the option of using a 2016 franchise tag at their disposal, giving them leverage in talks.
Still, given that the salary cap will rise in the coming years, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com recently estimated that Jones should earn something in the neighborhood of $15.25MM per annum, so it is surprising that Jones would settle for less than $14MM. If Jones accepts $13MM per year, he’d match the AAV of T.Y. Hilton, who recently agreed to an extension with the Colts. Based on 2014 numbers alone, Jones is clearly the superior receiver, having posted almost 250 more receiving yards, 22 more receptions, and one more touchdown, so it would seem odd for him to equal the compensation of Hilton.
Jones confirmed to reporters late last month that talks were underway between his representatives and the Falcons, though he was unwilling to put a timetable on when a deal might get done. Per Breer, the fact that no timetable has been set for the conclusion of negotiations is a positive, as it’s a “sign of good tenor” between the two parties.