Julio Jones

Extension Candidate: Julio Jones

After skipping voluntary OTAs, Falcons star Julio Jones reported for the team’s mandatory minicamp earlier this month. There’s clear mutual interest in a new deal, but Jones’ situation is trickier than most. 

Jones is one of the league’s most accomplished wide receivers, but figuring out a multi-year extension for a 30-year-old skill player is never easy. He’s topped 1,400 receiving yards in each of the last five seasons, but it’s hard to bank on his speed holding up across multiple seasons.

Still, Jones led the league with 1,677 receiving yards in 2018 and continues to draw double coverage from overwhelmed defenses on a regular basis. And, while his contract has two more years to go, the Falcons cannot risk a rift – or a holdout – with their most potent offensive weapon.

A fresh deal for Jones would likely take him through the end of his career, but what would such an add-on look like? Currently, Jones’ salary has him ranked just 12th among wide receivers with an average annual value of $14.25MM. Making Jones No. 1 in AAV would mean vaulting him ahead of Antonio Brown‘s $19.8MM/year and Odell Beckham Jr.’s $18MM/year, which should be doable for the Falcons. However, Jones is unlikely to match the length of OBJ’s contract or, more importantly, the guarantees.

Beckham’s five-year, $90MM extension granted him $65MM in total guarantees and a whopping $41MM guaranteed at signing. Jones, who is already under contract through his age 32 season, is probably looking at no more than an additional three years. From there, you can expect a hefty signing bonus, and a decent sum scheduled for Year One of the new deal, but it’s unrealistic to expect the Falcons to ensure $41MM to the aging superstar.

So, how can the two sides reach an accord that is satisfactory for everyone? Recently, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com suggested the following:

  • Length: Three years
  • New money total: $60MM (Bringing total remaining value to $81MM over five years)
  • Signing bonus: $25MM
  • Guaranteed money: $50.526MM
  • Fully guaranteed at signing: $37.526MM

Ultimately, that amounts to a $20MM average annual value, allowing Jones to edge Brown and OBJ in that category. Meanwhile, the Falcons preserve some flexibility, as Jones’ total guarantees would be $14.475MM shy of OBJ’s.

A new deal for Jones and the Falcons seems like an inevitability, but it will be interesting to see when they get it done, how they get it done, and what the cashflow of the extension looks like.

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Julio Jones, Rest Of Falcons In Camp

Led by star receiver Julio Jones, all players who did not attend Falcons OTAs arrived for the first day on minicamp, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets

That list includes the recently franchise-tagged Grady Jarrett, defensive end Vic Beasley and linebacker Deion Jones.

In addition to arriving for mandatory minicamp, Julio Jones is not worried about his contract and is sure a new deal will get done, ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes.

“The situation will get handled. It’s just a matter of time when they’re going to do it. Mr. Blank has spoken, so what more do I need to say or talk about?” Jones said.

McClure notes that in addition to a reworked deal for the pass-catcher, the Falcons also hope to sign Jarrett and Deion Jones to extensions. In addition to Julio not worried about his deal getting done, Falcons owner Arthur Blank sounds just as confident.

“I’m not worried about getting the deals done. I’m speaking on behalf of Atlanta and Atlanta fans. [General manager] Thomas [Dimitroff] is working hard to get them done. Coach [Dan] Quinn is supportive, as well. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when,” Blank said.

Though he did arrive at the three-day minicamp, Julio will not be participating due to a foot injury. Jones is coming off his fifth consecutive 1,400-yard campaign and led the league with 1,677 receiving yards in 2018.

Latest On Falcons’ Extension Candidates

For a second straight offseason, the subject of Julio Jones‘ contract has been a key offseason Falcons talking point. But next week, the All-Pro wide receiver will be with the team when it conducts its minicamp.

Dan Quinn confirmed (via The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz, on Twitter) the ninth-year receiver will show for minicamp, which begins June 11. So will fourth-year defensive end Vic Beasley. It is not yet certain if franchise-tagged defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will join them, though Quinn anticipates he will. Skipping mandatory minicamp would cost the trio nearly $90K each.

Regardless of the statuses of Jones, Jarrett and fellow extension candidate Deion Jones, the Falcons expect to re-sign all three. He did not specify a plan for Beasley, who joined the group in staying away from Falcons OTAs.

We have a salary cap. We have limits that we have to think about not only today but tomorrow, and we have to balance all that off,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “But these are three great young men that we care deeply about, both personally and professionally. They are going to be Falcons for life.

I’m not worried about getting the deals done. I’m speaking on behalf of Atlanta and Atlanta fans. Thomas [Dimitroff] is working hard to get them done. Coach Quinn is supportive as well. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when.”

A new deal for Jones has been rumored for weeks now, and it will almost certainly make the 30-year-old receiver the league’s new highest-paid player at the position. Two seasons remain on the five-year, $71.25MM extension he signed in 2015. Jarrett is tethered to a $15.2MM franchise tag. Jones would have the most to gain by signing an extension before the season. The former second-round pick’s rookie deal pays him just $1.45MM. The Falcons picked up Beasley’s fifth-year option (worth $12.8MM) last year.

The Falcons, though, are light on cap space ($6.5MM, the fifth-lowest figure at the moment), so it will take some work to fulfill Blank’s vision.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Packers, Giants, Julio Jones

The Packers have had a drama-filled offseason. Various media reports have detailed extensive dysfunction in the organization during the final days of the Mike McCarthy era, and Aaron Rodgers has feuded publicly with old teammates like Greg Jennings. Green Bay is looking to put all the drama behind them this season, and seem to be very excited about starting fresh with new coach Matt LaFleur. Those around the team are hoping that LaFleur will provide some desperately needed energy to the team, and will help push and revitalize Rodgers.

Apparently the Packers weren’t willing to cede too much control to the first-time head coach however. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that LaFleur “wasn’t the sole decision-maker” when it came to filling out his coaching staff. “Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was not forced on LaFleur, but the new coach was strongly encouraged to keep him,” Silverstein writes, and it sounds like other assistant coaching decisions may not have been left up to LaFleur. Team president Mark Murphy has strongly denied that LaFleur wasn’t allowed to pick his own staff.

Silverstein points out that the Packers currently have a chaotic power structure with LaFleur, GM Brian Gutekunst, and director of football operations Russ Ball all reporting directly to Murphy, and many in the organization worry that’s a dynamic that is going to lead to dysfunction. This isn’t a great start for LaFleur’s tenure, but winning a few games early on will make all of this worry go away pretty quickly.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The Giants plan on Eli Manning being their starter in 2019, they’ve made that very clear. But if he were thrust into action, New York’s coaching staff is already confident that sixth overall pick Daniel Jones would be ready to go from day one. “I think he’d be ready to go, that’s my personal opinion,” Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula said when asked if Jones could be an instant starter in the league, per Tom Rock of Newsday. “I think he has that capability.” Defensive coordinator James Bettcher also had high praise for the rookie signal-caller after watching him take part in rookie minicamp. The selection of Jones was widely criticized as a reach, but the Giants’ coaching staff seems quite happy with their pick, for now.
  • Speaking of the Giants, the team signed offensive lineman Mike Remmers earlier today, and now we have details on the contract. It’s a one-year deal with a base value of $2.5MM, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). If he meets some play-time incentives, the value of the deal can increase to $4MM. Remmers started all 16 games at right guard for the Vikings last year, but his agent confirmed the Giants will be moving him back to right tackle, his original position. The Giants have put an emphasis on rebuilding their offensive line, and as of right now it looks like Remmers will be a starter on the outside opposite Nate Solder.
  • We heard all the way back in March that the Falcons were nearing a deal on an extension with Julio Jones, and then nothing ever materialized. Jones held out briefly last offseason because he’s severely underpaid at the moment, and all indications have been they would get a deal done this year, but there hasn’t been much progress recently. Jones stayed away from the team’s voluntary offseason workouts, but things still appear to be headed in the right direction. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said today he’s “very encouraged” by the talks he’s had with Jones’ agent, per Jeff Schultz of The Athletic (Twitter link). “Both parties are in a good place. There’s no timeline but I’m not worried. Julio will be around while we’re working on it,” he continued. In a separate tweet, Schutlz writes that Dimitroff said Jones will be at this year’s mandatory minicamp after skipping it last year, and Jones could even participate in some voluntary OTAs coming up.

 

Julio Jones Not At Falcons Workouts

Wide receiver Julio Jones is not in attendance for the beginning of the Falcons’ offseason workouts, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.

Workouts at this stage of the offseason are not mandatory, so Jones isn’t at risk of being fined for not being present. The star pass-catcher is pushing for a new contract, so it’s possible he’s sending a message to Atlanta by sitting out. Per McClure, Jones doesn’t have a “set time” when he plans to report.

Jones, 30, didn’t attend workouts last offseason, either, but didn’t get a new contract as a result. Instead, the Falcons converted $2MM of Jones’ 2019 base salary into a signing bonus, affording him more money up front but not changing the overall terms of his deal. Reports last month suggested Jones was nearing an extension with the Falcons, but there’s no been no more news on that front since.

When Jones signed a five-year extension in 2015, his $14.25MM annual salary made him the NFL’s second-highest-paid wide receiver behind Calvin Johnson. Four years later, Jones is only the 11th-highest-paid wideout, as fellow pass-catchers such as Odell Beckam Jr., Mike Evans, and DeAndre Hopkins have increased the positional market.

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Julio Jones, Falcons Nearing Extension

The Falcons signed Matt Ryan to an extension last offseason, and it’s looking like they’ll be locking up their other franchise player. The Falcons are “closing in on” a contract extension with Julio Jones, according to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report

Freeman reports that the deal will pay Jones “$20 million a year over a four- or five-year” pact, with “anywhere from $50 million to $60 million in new guarantees.” Jones’ contract situation has caused a lot of headaches for the team recently, so this would be a huge development. Jones still has two years left on his current contract, but is grossly underpaid. Jones signed a very team-friendly deal a few years back, and decided last year that he wanted to be more fairly compensated.

He launched a brief holdout during training camp when he announced he wouldn’t report. The Falcons were reluctant to renegotiate his deal with three years left, but eventually convinced him to return when they threw in some extra incentives as sweeteners. Freeman writes that the money Jones gets will likely surpass what Odell Beckham Jr. got on his extension “by a lot.”

If Freeman is right, Jones will soon pass Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown to become the highest paid receiver in football. Jones had another elite season last year, and led the league in receiving yards. He reeled in 113 passes for 1677 yards and eight touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Brissett, Colts, Falcons, Saints, Bucs

When Andrew Luck missed the entire 2017 season, Jacoby Brissett ended up becoming the Colts’ starter after they acquired him from New England, and he filled in admirably. He’s remained in Indianapolis since then, despite trade rumors swirling ever since. Colts GM Chris Ballard said in January that the team viewed Brissett as a starter in the league, and that they’d have to be blown away to trade him.

We now have more details on their thinking, as sources at the combine told Tony Pauline of Draftanalyst.com that the Colts “would demand a second-round choice ” for Brissett. Pauline further explained their process, writing that if Brissett walks in free agency after this season the Colts think “they would likely receive a compensatory third-round pick based on the contract he’s likely to sign; hence the second-round price tag.” This could all just be posturing to elicit better offers for Brissett, but it definitely seems like the team is high on him.

Here’s more from the league’s southern divisions:

  • The Falcons have repeatedly expressed confidence that they’d be able to get a new deal done with Julio Jones, but there’s “not much going on” between the two sides, a source told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones is locked into a contract that is one of the best bargains in the NFL, and isn’t happy about it. He briefly held out last offseason before the team sweetened his deal with some incentives to draw him back. As McClure points out, GM Thomas Dimitroff has said the team is optimistic against getting a deal done, but there’s apparently been no progress. Jones could hold out again this summer, and it’ll be something to keep an eye on.
  • There were some rumors online that the Buccaneers could be shopping linebacker Lavonte David at the combine, but those apparently are false. Multiple sources told Jenna Laine of ESPN.com that David “is going nowhere.” David is still only 29 and received very good marks from Pro Football Focus last year, so it makes sense that the Bucs would want to keep him in the fold as they rebuild their porous defense.
  • The Saints are hiring former NFL linebacker Michael Wilhoite to their coaching staff, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. Wilhoite will be a special teams assistant in New Orleans. Wilhoite played six seasons in the NFL from ’12-17, spending time with the 49ers and Seahawks.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.