The Falcons agreed to a five-year, $71.25 million contract extension with wide receiver Julio Jones on Saturday.
Jones and the Falcons wanted to reach an agreement before the start of the regular season.
“We could not be more thrilled to make Julio a Falcon for life,” said Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank. “Julio has established himself as one of the top wide receivers in the NFL during his career and has already set the franchise record for receiving yards in a season. I am extremely proud of what he has accomplished and he has just begun to scratch the surface in terms of his potential.”
The Falcons acquired Jones with the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft after they sent five picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up from the 27th spot.
Jones has been a spectacular of the Falcons, while making the Pro Bowl team twice.
Last season, he caught 104 passes for 1,536 yards and six touchdowns.
Over the offseason, the market for Jones was affected when Dallas and Denver reached deals with Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas.
Jones’ deal slightly exceeds those deals. Bryant signed a five-year deal worth $70 million with $45 million guaranteed. Thomas, who starred at Georgia Tech, signed a five-year, $70 million deal with $43.5 million guaranteed.
The Falcon have made it a practice of not allowing some star players to enter the last year of their contract. They have either granted an extension or released the player.
Quarterback Matt Ryan’s six-year, $103 million contract extension was completed before the start of camp in 2013.
However, they released running back Michael Turner and Harry Douglas before they could enter the final year of their contracts.
Jones was scheduled to play the 2015 season under his fully guaranteed $10.176 million option year salary.
Jones deal was projected by Joel Corry, a CBS Sports business reporter, to average $15.25 million per year, but the deal came in at $14.25 million.