Julio Jones

NFC Notes: Vikings, Panthers, Jones, Tate, Boston

Following the tragic and unexpected death of offensive line coach Tony Sparano this week, the Vikings have made some adjustments to their coaching staff. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune reports (via Twitter) that the team will names Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko co-coaches for the offensive line.

Barone, who’s been working in the NFL since 2004, was the Vikings tight ends coach last season. With the reorganization of the coaching staff, senior offensive assistant (and former Raiders offensive coordinator) Todd Downing will take on the tight ends gig. Meanwhile, Janocko had previously served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (via Twitter) that the team had also pursued former Vikings head coach Mike Tice for the offensive line job. We heard back in February that the 59-year-old was eyeing retirement.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Panthers right tackle Daryl Williams appeared to suffer a serious knee injury during practice today, writes Bryan Strickland of the team’s website. The 25-year-old reportedly went down following a “non-contact injury,” and he was later carted off the field. “He’s being evaluated,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “They’ll send him up to Charlotte where he can be closely looked at, and we’ll go from there. I’m not sure. I just know they’re going to take him up and evaluate him later today…Daryl is a solid young man, and he’s a big part of what we do. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.” If the 2017 second-team All-Pro ends up missing time, Rivera said 2017 second-round pick Taylor Moton will be given the chance to earn the starting gig.
  • Julio Jones saw several adjustments to his contract before reporting to Falcons training camp, writes Michael Davis Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. The star wideout will now earn a $4.4MM signing bonus thanks to his revised deal, while his 2018 and 2019 base salaries were reduced to $1.5MM and $2.9MM, respectively.
  • Lions wideout Golden Tate is entering the final season of his five-year, $31MM deal that was signed back in 2014. While the 29-year-old shouldn’t anticipate a similar payday as Brandin Cooks or Sammy Watkins, he’s still hoping the organization has some leftover money to keep him around. “I hope there’s some (money) left,” Tate told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press“Congratulations to all those guys who’ve gotten big deals. They definitely deserve it. I mean, all those players like Cooks and Sammy, they’re all hell of players. Who else? The guy who used to be in Chicago? Alshon (Jeffery). He got a payday, too. So congratulations to all those guys. I hope everyone who plays this game has an opportunity to earn a big payday. I’m happy for them.” Tate had another productive season in 2017, hauling in 92 receptions for 1,003 yards and five touchdowns.
  • We heard earlier this week that Tre Boston‘s deal with the Cardinals was worth $1.5MM (although this could be increased to $3MM). However, Pro Football Talk reports that the safety’s deal only contains $800K in guaranteed money. The deal also includes a number of incentives, including per-game bonuses, playing time bonuses, and Pro Bowl/statistical bonuses. The 26-year-old had a productive season for the Chargers last season, compiling 79 tackles, eight passes defended, and five interceptions in 16 games (15 starts).

Julio Jones Reports To Falcons

Julio Jones and the Falcons have reached a compromise. The star wide receiver will participate in training camp and the two sides will go back to the negotiating table next year. 

We have had continued dialogue all offseason with Julio and his representation. We have come to an agreement with Julio, and we will re-address everything in 2019. I appreciate everyone’s hard work and communication on this,” GM Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement. “This adjustment does not impede us from working on other extensions with other key members of our football team. We will continue to work on those contracts going forward.”

The Falcons converted roughly $2MM of Jones’ 2019 base salary into a bonus for 2018, Jeff Schultz of The Athletic (on Twitter) hears. That’s far from the mega extension that Jones was gunning for, but it’ll be enough to get him on the practice field and focused on football.

Last year, Jones had 88 receptions for 1,444 yards and he has given the Falcons four straight seasons with at least 1,400 yards receiving.. He’s made the Pro Bowl in each of his last five healthy seasons, positioning himself as one of the very best wide receivers in the game. However, with three years to go on his current contract, he didn’t have quite enough leverage to get a new deal.

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Falcons, Julio Jones Working On New Deal

The Falcons are “working intensively” on a new contract for wide receiver Julio Jones, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Atlanta is open to “creatively addressing” Jones’ planned salary for 2018, which sits at $10.5MM.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced indicating Jones would be holding out from the Falcons’ training camp after requesting an “adjusted” contract in May. Thus far, Atlanta has not shown an inclination to give Jones any sort of an alteration, and were reportedly focused on new deals for players like Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews, and Ricardo Allen.

Jones helped reset the wide receiver market in 2015 by inking a five-year, $71.25MM extension with Atlanta, tying him to the club through the 2020 campaign. However, Jones’ $14.25MM average salary now ranks just ninth among NFL wideouts, behind fellow pass-catchers such as Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry, and Sammy Watkins.

In 2017, Jones snagged 83 balls en route to finishing third in the league in receiving yards per game. The 29-year-old Jones has been to four straight Pro Bowls and has two first-team All-Pro nods under his belt. Once his contract is squared away, he’ll once top an Atlanta depth chart that now includes Calvin Ridley in additional to Mohamed Sanu.

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Julio Jones Won’t Report To Camp

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones does not plan to report to camp and he is comfortable sitting out the entire time, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL>com (on Twitter). Jones, of course, wants an improved contract, even though the Falcons have told him that he will not be getting one

The Falcons have told Jones taht they would be willing to re-work his contract next year, but Jones wants it done right now, even though he has three years to go on his current pact. In years past, stars such as Antonio Brown, Marshawn Lynch, and Rob Gronkowski have been in similar positions. In those cases, their respective teams moved money from a future season to the current year in order to satisfy the player. That could be the solution here for the Falcons to get Jones back in the fold.

Jones skipped the Falcons’ voluntary offseason program and mandatory minicamp, so it’s not a shock to see him stay away during training camp. He’ll face hefty fines for holding out, but it could be worthwhile in the long run if he gets what he wants.

Jones is earning $14.25MM per year on his contract, but doesn’t have much left in guarantees. As he enters his final season in his 20s, it makes some sense for Jones to push for the best deal that he can get and holding out is the only way to make that happen since he has three years to go on the deal. Jones has been working out with Terrell Owens as of late, and it’s possible that he has influenced Jones’ thinking.

The Falcons star is coming off his fourth straight season with at least 1,400 yards, as he finished with 88 receptions for 1,444 yards and three scores. He’s made the Pro Bowl in each of his last five healthy seasons, positioning himself as one of the very best wide receivers in the game.

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Falcons Won’t Give Julio Jones New Deal

The Falcons have informed Julio Jones that they have no plans to give Julio Jones a raise before the 2018 season starts, Jeff Schultz of The Athletic hears. However, the Falcons maintain hope that Jones will report to training camp next week. 

The Falcons have never renegotiated a contract with more than one year left on a deal, and Jones has three years to go on his pact. The Falcons are apparently holding the line for now, even though Jones is a transcendent talent. Instead, they’ll focus on extensions for players like defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, left tackle Jake Matthews and safety Ricardo Allen, all of whom are entering their walk years.

The Falcons have told Jones that they are willing to discuss his deal after the 2018 season, Schultz hears. The Falcons may feel that is a solid compromise given their position on early extension talks, but Jones may not see it that way.

After skipping the Falcons’ voluntary offseason program and mandatory minicamp, Jones watched Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks ink a five-year, $80MM contract earlier this week. The new money average gives Cooks a higher average salary, even though he is not as accomplished as Jones. That development has almost certainly rankled the Falcons star.

Falcons training camp begins on Wednesday afternoon with the first practice scheduled for Thursday.

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South Notes: Falcons, Jones, Titans, Casey

Everyone is waiting to see whether Julio Jones will show up for Falcons training camp, but fans received an encouraging sign this week when Jones arrived at Matt Ryan‘s offseason passing camp (Twitter link via team). Jones has stayed away from the team this offseason in hopes of reworking his contract and it’s not clear if he’ll join his teammates on July 26 in Georgia.

Jones is underpaid for what he does, but he has three years to go on his deal and the Falcons aren’t under any real pressure to revise his deal. His yearly average of $14.25MM once seemed like a lot, but it’s now good for eighth among wide receivers. Jones could, in theory, improve his leverage by continuing to skip team activities, but he’ll have to pay substantial fines.

Here’s more from the South divisions:

  • Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey says he’ll stay on the field and protest during the national anthem, while accepting any fines levied against him under the terms of the new anthem policy. “I’m going to take a fine this year, why not?” said Casey (via CNN). “I’m going to protest during the flag. That’s what I’m going to say now.” Casey, 28, inked a four-year, $60.4MM extension with the Titans in 2017, so he can probably afford to pay some fines. It remains to be seen whether other players will follow suit.
  • Linebacker Darius Leonard is the only unsigned rookie left in the Colts‘ draft class yet to sign his contract, but that might not be the case for long. The Colts still expect to have a deal done by the time rookies report on Sunday, a source tells Stephen Holder of the Indy Star (on Twitter).

Jones’ Relationship With Falcons Strained?

Seeing the likes of Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry and Davante Adams surpass his once-NFL-high wide receiver contract, Julio Jones has stayed away from the Falcons in pursuit of an adjusted contract. And Dan Quinn appeared to intimate the sides were on the same page.

But there may be some fence-mending that needs to happen before the parties can work together again. Well, a new contract might do the trick, too. However, Jones and the Falcons have had a strained relationship for weeks, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report notes.

Jones said earlier during Atlanta’s offseason program, which he stayed away from, there was no bad blood between he and the Falcons. That may not be entirely true as he guns for an updated deal. Jones has three seasons left on a contract agreed to in 2015, one that’s paying him $14.25MM per year but has little guaranteed dollars remaining.

Additionally, the Falcons look to be concerned about the person he’s chosen to train with in lieu of attending team workouts. D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via CBS Sports) said during a radio interview this week Atlanta’s front office has been “uneasy” about Jones working out with Terrell Owens, one of the most polarizing players in NFL history.

This will be Jones’ final season in his 20s, and he’s going into his eighth year. And given the contracts recently handed out, this serves as a logical juncture for Jones to make a stand. The holdout, with three years left on a contract, also has the Falcons “uneasy”, per Ledbetter. While a contract amendment with so much time left would set a precedent the team likely would prefer to avoid, it’s hard to picture the Falcons lining up without Jones in Week 1.

For now, though, the decorated wideout is at odds with the Falcons and is part of an extensive holdout contingent.

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Examining Key 2018 Holdouts

The 2014 first round produced some of the NFL’s best players, and they comprise part of an extensive group of that skipped minicamp and could well be training camp holdouts. But several other standout players didn’t show for their respective teams’ mandatory workouts either. Here’s a look on where things stand with this absent contingent.

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams: The reigning defensive player of the year is holding out for a second straight summer. He skipped the Rams’ minicamp, as expected, and remains focused on a landscape-changing deal. Both Donald and Khalil Mack are in line to eclipse Von Miller‘s $19MM annual salary, but the California-based franchises may be hesitant to be the first to authorize a $20MM-per-year pact for a defender. However, Les Snead‘s already conceded the Rams will have to finalize a Donald deal that makes him the league’s highest-paid defender. But with the Broncos superstar having signed his extension in a $155MM cap year, it’s likely Donald’s camp — particularly on the heels of a season where the all-world interior defender won DPOY honors after his holdout induced a two-game absence — is targeting a figure well north of Miller’s, with the cap now at $177.2MM.

The Rams see this process unfolding in a less contentious fashion this year, but a Donald deal — one that’s putting other priorities on hold — isn’t imminent.

David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: Unlike Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers, this process features no immediate deadline. But Johnson’s contract expires after this season, with no fifth-year option available to the franchise. Johnson and the Cards are engaging in extension discussions, and Steve Keim said this week — as his All-Pro back skipped minicamp — the team looks forward to signing Johnson long-term.

This has not proven to be an acrimonious situation, but Johnson is on a slightly different timetable than Bell. Despite being a fourth-year player compared to Pittsburgh’s All-Pro entering his sixth season, Johnson is a few months older than Bell and will turn 27 in December. However, it may be in his best interests to wait and see what happens with Bell by the July 16 franchise tag extension deadline.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons: The NFL’s seen its wide receiver salary landscape shift since Jones signed his extension in August 2015. That contract made Jones the NFL’s highest-paid wideout, but seven receivers have since surpassed him. This includes Sammy Watkins and slot target Jarvis Landry, who respectively signed 2018 deals for $16MM and $15.1MM annually. Atlanta’s top weapon wants a revised contract and skipped OTAs and minicamp, and the Falcons are discussing such an amendment.

Jones has three seasons and minimal guarantees remaining on his deal, which averages $14.25MM per year. The team’s response a Jones camp proposal did not meet with the group’s approval, but the sides continue to negotiate. The 29-year-old pass-catcher said recently he has no intentions of forcing his way out of Atlanta.

Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans: The left tackle is part of the 2014 first-round contingent entering fifth-year option seasons, and he joined some of the group’s higher-profile players in skipping mandatory June workouts. Jon Robinson said upon being informed of Lewan’s impending minicamp absence that the parties are participating in ongoing re-up dialogue, but as recently as late May, no reports indicated this was the case.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Lewan is entering his age-27 season and is now shooting for Nate Solder‘s $15.5MM-AAV standard. That’s $2MM-plus more than any other left tackle makes, and the Giants authorized that contract amid free agency circumstances. This will complicate matters for Lewan and other extension-seeking tackles. Lewan’s option season is set to be worth $9.341MM.

Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders: After not joining Donald in a 2017 holdout, despite being in essentially the same situation, Mack is doing so this year. He has not reported to the Raiders this offseason. The 2016 defensive player of the year saw 2014 draftee teammates Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson sign lucrative extensions, only to see the Raiders put his on hold — mirroring other teams’ processes with ’14 first-rounders — because of the franchise-friendly fifth-year option. Reggie McKenzie‘s maintained the franchise intends to extend Mack in 2018 and said other players’ situations aren’t factoring into these discussions. Though, it’d be hard to believe Donald’s process isn’t impacting Mack’s at all.

The Raiders and Mack weren’t close on terms in April, but both Carr and Jackson signed their extensions in June of last year, perhaps pointing to a near-future resolution. Unlike the Rams, however, the Raiders have a top-tier quarterback salary on their books. That could cause issues elsewhere on the roster. Although, the cap’s perpetual rise negates some of those potential problems.

Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks: Perhaps the most interesting of these situations, the Seahawks have dangled Thomas in trades but expect him to report for training camp. Like Jones, Thomas saw several at his position usurp him in the salary hierarchy since signing an extension. Thomas signed a $10MM-AAV contract to make him the highest-paid safety in 2014. Again in a contract year, he’s threatened a holdout for months and is following through. The Cowboys and Seahawks discussed a draft-weekend deal for the three-time All-Pro. While Dallas balked about sending a second-round pick for the 29-year-old defender, the teams may well revisit these talks.

Either way, Thomas is going to want Eric Berry money ($13MM AAV) on his third contract. With Richard Sherman in San Francisco and Kam Chancellor‘s career in doubt, Thomas is the last remaining member of the Legion of Boom. It’s just uncertain if he’ll finish out his second contract in Seattle or be shipped elsewhere and end that dominant era.

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Falcons, Julio Jones Discussing New Deal

Julio Jones has been staying away from the Falcons as he pushes for a new deal, but coach Dan Quinn is confident that a resolution is on the horizon. This week, Quinn hinted at dialogue between the two sides regarding a revised contract. 

The good news is that there are conversations that have begun,” Quinn said (via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “We’ll keep those private. I have a lot of faith in the organization and also in Julio that things will get resolved with good communications. I’m sure that’ll be a part of it as well.”

Jones skipped the team’s voluntary offseason program as well as the club’s mandatory minicamp this week. By skipping the minicamp, Jones will be subject to roughly $85K in fines.

There were contract talks between the two sides before minicamp, but that round of discussions didn’t go well. Reportedly, a contract proposal was sent by Jones’ team to Atlanta brass and the “response was not satisfactory” to Jones’ camp.

Jones is under contract through the 2020 season, but his deal is now below market value thanks to the advancement of the wide receiver market. His six-year deal worth an average of $13.5MM per year seemed substantial at the time of signing in 2015, but it pales in comparison to deals for other top WRs in 2018. Seven receivers now outpace Jones in terms of average annual value: Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry, A.J. Green, and Davante Adams.

Meanwhile, the Falcons have several other players angling for extensions, with Ricardo AllenGrady Jarrett, and Jake Matthews all also wanting new deals. They recently committed a massive amount of money to Matt Ryan‘s mega-extension, so it may prove tricky to give new deals to every key player seeking one.

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Julio Jones To Skip Falcons’ Minicamp

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones will not be attending the team’s mandatory minicamp, GM Thomas Dimitroff announced in a statement on the team’s website.

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.

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