Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was thankful to get his contract situation resolved before the start of the 2019 season.
Jones agreed to terms on a three-year, $66 million contract extension before the team flew to Minneapolis Saturday.
“I had some peace of mind,” Jones said after the 28-12 loss to the Vikings in Sunday’s season opener. “I talked to (owner) Mr. (Arthur) Blank. Just talking about how appreciative I am of him. The love I have for the organization and things like that. That’s out the way now. It’s more on us now and getting ready to play football.”
Jones, with the $22 million average per year, is the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. He said that getting that title wasn’t that important to him, but that his family really cared about that status.
Jones, 30, sensed that this was either his last or next-to-last mega deal and he spoke of his family and trying to create generational wealth for them.
With the business completed, Jones had a rough day against the Vikings, who double-teamed him with cornerback Xavier Rhodes and a safety. Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith helped Rhodes defend Jones, who caught six of 11 targets for 31 yards and a touchdown.
“They had two players over him basically the entire game,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “That makes it tough. They had hard inside leverage from Rhodes and a safety over the top. It creates other opportunities for other guys.”
Jones tried not to get frustrated with the coverage.
“Make plays when it’s time to make plays when our number is called, things like that,” Jones said. “We didn’t do that today.”
Jones was expecting the extra attention. He had averaged just 54 yards receiving in his three most recent games against the Vikings.
“We have played them in the past and I figured they were going to do that,” Jones said. “I got a lot of two-man today. That’s outside. The way we play ball, we still have to make plays. We still have to go out there. ... By them doing so, everybody has to be accountable, myself included. Just going out there and making plays. It’s simple as that. They tried to take me away especially on third down when I was coming in the game and on early downs.”
With Jones heavily guarded, tight end Austin Hooper got nine targets, wide receivers Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu had six targets each.
The Falcons needed a bigger game from Jones as nothing else seemed to work.
“We had a lot of penalties,” Jones said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. They had like a 80-yard drive, but it was like 30 yards of penalties to let them out of the hole. We control all of this. It’s not them, it’s us. We just have to do better.”
Jones believes the Falcons will rebound.
“For me, it’s one play at a time,” Jones said. “Good or bad happens, get the next play. Get the next play. Whatever happens, happens. That’s where the training comes in at. But us training and competing against one another.”
Jones appeared to injured his left hand late in the game. He said that he was feeling “great” and that he didn’t know how it was injured.
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