In August of 2015, wide receiver Julio Jones signed a five-year contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons worth $71.3 million.
Now less than three years later, he’s holding out of training camp looking for a new contract.
According to several published reports, the 29-year-old Jones will not report to training camp on Thursday with the Falcons’ veterans.
And this could turn into a protracted holdout, because according to The Athletic, the Falcons have no intention of giving Jones a new contract in 2018.
The Falcons are willing to address Jones contract situation after this season, but not with three years left on his current deal.
Jones will be fined $40,000 for every day of training camp he misses, but he knows that the Falcons will likely waive the fines, as most teams are wont to do when star players hold out. So the fines likely don’t have any teeth.
The player is clearly miffed that he’s now the seventh highest-paid receiver in football behind Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, Chicago’s Sammy Watkins, Cleveland’s Jarvis Landry and Green Bay’s Davante Adams.
Jones’ 2015 deal made him the NFL’s second highest paid wide receiver at the time.
But he had to figure that in the years following him inking that contract, other free agent wide receivers would surpass his deal.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green also signed a big-money contract in the summer of 2015 and isn’t holding out for an extension this summer. He knew other deals would usurp his money in the years that followed.
“I think the biggest thing for me, I’m always comfortable with stuff I’m doing – I signed a deal and I’m comfortable with the deal and I just live with it,” Green said. “After that’s up, we go back to the board. I don’t really get caught up in what’s the money like because I signed my deal and it was the highest paid at that point. It’s going to always go up. So you can’t keep up with that.”
Jones worked out with recalcitrant former NFL receiver Terrelle Owens this off-season, and the Falcons think this might have impacted his mindset. Jones, whose always been a great teammate, historically has worked out with the Falcons in the off-season.
“The fact that he’s running around with Terrell Owens has the front office uneasy. The fact that he held out and is bucking the whole ‘brotherhood’ thing has them a little bit uneasy too,” long-time Atlanta Journal-Constitution beat-writer Orlando Ledbetter said on a Charlotte radio station. “They’ll have to mend some fences, no question about it, once he returns.”
While this situation could get real ugly for the Falcons, team owner Arthur Blank has faith his top football people will work this out.
“I have full faith in TD [general manager Thomas Dimitroff] and DQ [coach Dan Quinn] to handle this in the best manner that is feasible for us,” Blank said. “We love Julio, and I have said our wishes are that he be a Falcon for life. As always, I am available to our staff as needed and at appropriate times.”