So matters just got a bit more touchy in the suddenly bubbling Atlanta Falcons-Julio Jones negotiations, according to a new report.
The Falcons would like Jones, who skipped last week’s minicamp, to get on the same page as the team. Jones would like to be paid like the elite receiver he is. And now that newly minted NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens is in the mix, as Jones’ new workout partner, the waters are apparently a touch murkier. Let’s set the stage.
Why is Julio Jones upset?
Jones signed a five-year extension back in 2015 that would pay him $71.26 million and run through the 2020 season. At the time, that made him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. But since then, seven receivers have signed more lucrative deals. Is Julio Jones the eighth-best receiver in the NFL? Yeah, he doesn’t think so either, and he doesn’t want to be paid like it.
(For the record, those receivers making a higher average salary than Jones: Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry, A.J. Green, and Davante Adams.)
Why are the Falcons upset?
Well, first, because a five-year deal ought to run for five years, not two, and second, because Julio Joneses don’t grow on trees, and an unhappy and unproductive Jones would decimate the Falcons’ 2018 hopes.
“We have been in contact with Julio and his representation,” Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement last Monday. “We will not discuss those conversations publicly except to say we feel they have been productive and constructive. We understand the concerns and thoughts from their perspective. Although not ideal, Julio informed us [Monday] he would not be attending mini-camp. We have much respect for him and what he means to our team, our city and our fans.”
“The coach [Dan Quinn] was expecting him in here,” Falcons beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution told a Charlotte radio station. “Then a few weeks later Julio informed them he’s not going to be here.”
Why is Terrell Owens involved?
Owens is a master of injecting himself into any and every NFL situation possible, often at maximum volume. His talent is matched only by his instincts for self-promotion, and in Jones, he’s got an incredibly talented protege:
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) June 12, 2018
But another of Owens’ elite skills is the ability to enrage front offices, and it appears he’s done exactly that with the Falcons. “The fact that he’s running around with Terrell Owens has the front office uneasy,” Ledbetter said, a line that, if accurate, will only send this entire fiasco into orbit.
The two were even seen together working out at UCLA on Monday, where Jones clocked Owens running a sub-4.5 40-yard-dash.
Ledbetter said the relationship between the Falcons and Jones is “in a bad place right now,” and Falcons fans have to hope that the presence of Owens isn’t making matters worse.
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