Nobody would have been surprised if the news that broke today had been about why Julio Jones wouldn’t be reporting to camp tomorrow with the other Falcons veterans. Jones is under contract which usually means there’s no choice in the matter but he is, arguably, the best wide receiver in the league but is thirteenth on the earnings list at his position for 2019.
Instead, Jones is at the training facility and will be on the field with the team tomorrow which makes it appear that he’s putting all his trust in what team owner Arthur Blank has told him. Earlier this month Jones said, “[Blank’s] word is that it’s going to get done. There’s no stress on my end. I’m not thinking about it.”
Reporting is a giant show of good faith from Jones that he’s willing to do what is required of him. The issue is, apparently talks have been going on for the past couple of months. Those have produced numerous reports that both sides have been close to completing the deal.
Actually, that’s why the announcements of deals being completed by the Falcons with Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones came as the surprises that they were. Both sides were said to be far apart between Jarrett and the Falcons just hours before the franchise tag deadline.
Still, Blank had gone on record stating that Jarrett, Deion Jones and Julio Jones were all going to be with the team for life. Did the announcement of the other two extensions put the confidence in Julio Jones’ mind that Blank could be trusted at his word to come through for him?
The problem is, the Falcons salary cap was tight before the other two deals hit the books. While Jones has said earlier in the offseason that he wasn’t looking for top dollar wide receiver money, Sammy Watkins of the Chiefs, Odell Beckham, Jr. of the Browns and Mike Evans of the Buccaneers will be drawing the top three wide receiver paychecks in 2019. Beckham and Evans have the top two contracts in overall dollars for wide receivers. Is Jones going to be willing to slot in behind them in either category?
Julio Jones is showing himself as a man of his word by reporting to camp on time. He has also stated that he expects Arthur Blank to be a man of his word and move to complete a new contract. If Blank doesn’t come through with the money Jones expects though, how will he interpret that? Jones is in camp but can the Falcons keep him there.