Falcons, Jones contract talks progressing

ByVaughn McClure ESPN logo
Sunday, August 9, 2015

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Addressing wide receiver Julio Jones' contract situation Sunday, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank did not give a timetable but said talks are progressing.

"We're in the middle of those discussions," Blank said. "We expect Julio to be a lifer for the Falcons. We're moving forward and have every reason to be positive and be enthusiastic about it."

Jones has one year left on his rookie contract and will earn $10.176 million this season. The two-time Pro Bowler said his agent, Jimmy Sexton, began contract talks with the Falcons near the start of training camp. Sexton had a starting point to work with after top receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas both agreed to five-year, $70 million contracts that included more than $40 million guaranteed.

Jones is unlikely to match the league's top-paid receiver, Detroit's Calvin Johnson, who makes $16.2 million per year. But Blank was asked if $14-15 million per year was a reasonable figure for Jones.

"I think whatever the market is in the league, we look at Julio as certainly being in that class," Blank said. "The specifics, his length of contract and where he is in his contract terms is different than those players [Bryant and Thomas]. All of that needs to be built into the new deal. But we view [Jones] as one of the top receivers in the NFL, and I think most people do as well."

Jones missed 11 games in 2013 after fracturing his right foot. Blank said he didn't have any lingering concerns about the injury.

"I think we've gotten the best medical advice, really, in the world," Blank said. "And he followed their program last year to a T. This year, he's been able to do more during the offseason, and I think that reflects in the way he looks at camp and the way he's working."

Jones has maintained a business-like approach toward his contract.

"I haven't been watching other people," Jones said in June. "All I can do is take care of me. I'm going to let [the Falcons] take care of that side of it. If they say be here at this time, I'm going to be there. I'm going to be accountable."

Jones set a franchise record with 1,593 receiving yards last season on a career-high 104 receptions despite missing one game with an oblique injury.

Blank praised the class Jones has shown throughout the process.

"Actually, that's exactly what I would anticipate from Julio because that's the kind of person he is," Blank said. "And he is represented by an agent who we have a good relationship with and have had a lot of experience with. This is a business transaction, business deal that we have to get through. There's always a bit of a dance when you go through this kind of situation. But we're dealing in good faith. And, I said earlier, we expect Julio to be here for his entire career. And I think the agent does as well and the player does as well."

Blank also said team president Rich McKay will meet with commissioner Roger Goodell and executive vice president Troy Vincent regarding reinstatement to the competition committee. McKay was suspended after the Falcons illegally pumped crowd noise into the Georgia Dome over the past two seasons, a violation committed by former director of event marketing Roddy White.

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