Per ESPN’s Chris Mortenson, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones will not be with the team when training camp beings on Thursday.
This comes as little surprise to anyone following along. Jones has hinted through both words and actions this offseason that this would happen if his contract was not restructured. He missed both voluntary team workouts and mandatory mini-camp prior to announcing his plans to skip training camp.
Jones could be fined $40,000 per day for each day he does not report. Still, Jones does not seem fazed by this possibility. According the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Jones will be comfortable sitting out the entire camp if need be.
Rapoport also noted Jones knowledge of the business aspect of the league and a possible solution that could come into play down the line.
What Is 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 will not 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 has 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 that 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:
Will the Falcons eventually see it the same way?
*If Julio Jones were to play in the NBA and make his average salary 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.
**Update: Julio WAS NOT afraid to play hardball, as in past tense. It now appears the Falcons and Jone struck a deal as of late Wednesday Night and he will be in camp.
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