Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was a holdout over the offseason, allegedly ticked by the shifting wide receiver market that pushed him down the list of the highest-paid players at the position.
The Falcons adjusted his contract with a $2.9 million increase and agreed to re-examine the deal after the 2018 season.
Jones is back with the team and looked great during the open practices. The media has been regulated to watching him stretch during the minimally required 20-30 minute viewing period.
He’s doing some mighty fine stretching and coach Dan Quinn said he’s getting down in practice, too. Jones has been held out of the first three exhibition games and will not play in the fourth.
The wide receiver market just took another seismic shift with the New York Giants signing Odell Beckham Jr. to a five-year, $95 million deal. Congratulations to his agent Zeke Sandhu for landing the mega-deal, which included $65 million in guaranteed money.
What does this deal mean for Jones, who’s set to turn 30 in February, and the Falcons, who have several defenders coming up for new deals in the coming years?
The Falcons addressed quarterback Matt Ryan, left tackle Jake Matthews and free safety Ricardo Allen this offseason.
Next up is Grady Jarrett, who’s watching the Aaron Donald negotiations closely. While there are some reports of a $22 million per year deal for Donald, Jarrett, who doesn’t have the same sack production, will still command a nice deal.
If the Falcons reach a new deal with Jones, it’s not projected to top Beckham’s new contract.
“The tough thing about Julio is he’s gonna be 30-31 soon, so he won’t get to Odell’s $65 million guaranteed just because his next deal won’t be as long as his,” former agent and salary cap expert J.I Halsell told Terez Paylor of Yahoo! Sports.
If the Jones’ camp wants to become the highest-paid receiver in the league to surpass Beckham, they would be looking at a four-year, $80 million deal that would average $20 million a year.
That deal would take Jones to age 35 and would possibly cash-strap the Falcons.
The Falcons will have to make a decision: keep Jones happy of lose some key defenders?
“Obviously, one of the majority challenges is to make sure that you can be creative from a finance standpoint and make sure that you can fit all of your pillar players into a really good plan that you can continue on for years and years to come,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said when discussing team building and not the Jones’ situation specifically. “That is a massive challenge for general managers and organization.
“We feel like we have a very firm grasp of it. With that said, there are always going to be difficult decisions to made, unfortunately, that just the way it is with an unlimited cap. We will be faced with a lot of tough decisions in the next two or three years for sure.”