Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank remains hopeful wide receiver Julio Jones will pocket a new contract before the start of the regular season, but admits time is running out to beat that deadline.
“I’ve said this publicly and privately to Julio and Julio has said the same thing to me, both privately and publicly,” Blank said. “We expect Julio to be a Falcon for life and we have no reason to think that’s going to change at all. “The negotiations continue to move along in a positive way. It’s a big contract and it’s complex and what have you. It takes a little more time than we’d like. Probably a little more time than he would like, but I know we are in a good place.”
Between Blank and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons have voiced plenty of hopeful optimism about signing Jones. First, the team wanted a deal before training camp. Now, another deadline is quickly approaching. Blank said negotiations are “serious” between the two sides.
“We’ll have to let things take their course. I know that we are definitely in serious negotiations,” he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “It’s our goal and their goal as well to get it done before the start of the season.”
Jones has two years remaining on his deal, which owes him $9.6 million in 2019 and $11.4 million in 2020. He signed a contract adjustment as training camp opened last July — giving him $4.4 million, including $2.9 million from his 2019 salary, up front — and the team reportedly promised to do a full extension this offseason. That came after Jones missed the Falcons’ entire offseason program and threatened to hold out into training camp.
The 30-year-old again missed voluntary workouts this summer, but he showed for mandatory minicamp. He told reporters in April he isn’t concerned with being the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver.
But Dimitroff said the Falcons fully expect that to happen in light of the new deal for Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas worth $100 million.
Bleacher Report reported in late March the Falcons and Jones were closing in on a four- or five-year deal averaging $20 million annually, but nothing has developed since.
Entering his ninth season, Jones is coming off of his sixth Pro Bowl selection — fifth in a row — after catching 113 passes for a league-high 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He remains the NFL’s all-time leader in career receiving yards per game (96.7).