As we reported yesterday, Julio Jones was holding out of Camp if the Atlanta Falcons weren’t willing to pay him like a top receiver. After the news broke, the Falcons sprang into action.
— NFL (@NFL) July 26, 2018
In a statement, General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said, “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. 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.”
Julio Jones is one of the league’s premier players, and to have him hold out would have been disastrous for the Falcons. Their adjusting his salary was a prudent move.
What Was This About?
Julio Jones current contract is a five-year, $71.25 million deal that he signed in 2015. He averages about $14.25 million per year*, making him ninth in the NFL for receivers in this category:
With Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Brandin Cooks of the St. Louis Rams both receiving huge paydays this offseason (contracts for 5yrs/$82.5M and 5yrs/$80M, respectively), Jones has been pushed nearly out of the top ten.
And this is more or less the reason Julio Jones was not going to be with the Falcons at training camp. He simply believes that he does not deserve to be this far down the list.
Jones is a weapon that the Falcon’s will continue to need when taking on the league’s best. Still, Falcons’ management had so far refused to engage him in appeasing his concerns.
Does He Have A Point?
Well, that’s a stupid rhetorical question I have posed for the sake of answering it myself.
Of course, he does. He is unquestionably one of only two, maybe three choices for the best receiver on that list (one, of course, being Antonio Brown, and some may take a flier on Deandre Hopkins after a few big seasons with shoddy quarterback play).
While I don’t need to fawn over the obvious set of skills Jones possesses, it is important to note that the unlimited physical advantages and potential Jones has always have translated over to the stat sheet.
The Falcons usage of Jones in the red zone has always been puzzling (and maddening for fantasy owners of Jones, as I have been for three years now), and his touchdown numbers have suffered because of it, through little fault of his own. And still, Jones production has dwarfed nearly all other receivers in the league since 2014 outside of Brown.
Since 2014, he has been in the top three each year for total receiving yards. This includes 1,871 yards in 2015, a mark that is second in league history to Calvin Johnson’s 1,964 yards in 2012.
Over that same time period, he is second in receptions with 411. Again, second only to Antonio Brown, who has 472 receptions in the same span. Larry Fitzgerald is third on that list at 361 receptions. And in sticking with our Calvin Johnson theme, Johnson’s highest four year total ever was 373.
So the answer as to whether Julio Jones is worth what he will be asking for is as simple as it gets: yes, and in an open market, much more than he ever will be ever to make.
The only question remaining was: would the Falcons see it that way?
The Answer: Yes!
The #Falcons and WR Julio Jones have agreed on a revised contract that adjusts his 2018 salary. He’s showing up, as the team announced. This is a move that’s cap neutral, so it won’t affect other deals getting done.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 26, 2018
*If Julio Jones were to play in the NBA and make his average salary from his current contract next year, he would make less than 79 players. This includes Timofey Mozgov (4ppg in 2017), Ian Mahinmi (5ppg in 2017, Robert Covington, Enes Kanter, George Hill, Danilo Gallinari, Chris Bosh (doesn’t even play anymore), JJ Redick, Harrison Barnes, and Joakim Noah (has played 82 of the last 246 regular season games). This is disgusting/appalling/offensive/gross/disheartening/obscene. Pick your own negative adjective, it will work.