The statement reads “We have been in contact with Julio and his representation. We will not discuss those conversations publicly except to say we feel they have been productive and constructive. We understand the concerns and thoughts from their perspective. Although not ideal, Julio informed us today he would not be attending mini-camp. We have much respect for him and what he means to our team, our city and our fans.”
As Mike Garafolo of NFL Network points out, Jones had said last month that there was “no story to be told” when asked about reports he was unhappy with his contract (Twitter link). Jones had skipped the voluntary portions of the Falcons’ offseason program, but by missing the mandatory minicamp, he’ll be subject to fines of up to $84K if he misses all three days. When he first missed OTAs Jones said “I’m not going anywhere”, and insinuated his contract wouldn’t be a problem. The team had previously told reporters they expected Jones to show up for minicamp.
A source told Josina Anderson of ESPN that “a contract proposal was sent” by Jones’ team and that the “response was not satisfactory” from the team, causing Jones to decide to skip minicamp (Twitter link). Jones is now officially holding out from his contract that runs through the 2020 season. Despite being locked up for several more years, Jones is holding out because his salary is well below market value. He signed a six-year deal back in 2015 with an average annual salary of only $13.5MM, far below what he would fetch today on the open market.
The Falcons have a long list of players angling for extensions, with Ricardo Allen, Grady Jarrett, and Jake Matthews all also wanting new deals. They recently committed a massive amount of money to Matt Ryan‘s mega-extension and will be running low on funds by the time they lock up everybody who needs a new deal. Aside from Ryan, Jones is by far the most important player on the team, and it would be surprising if the Falcons don’t do something to sweeten his deal and keep their star receiver happy.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.