Wide receiver Julio Jones intends to call the bluff of the Atlanta Falcons, staying away from camp a week after the team informed the All-Pro his existing contract won’t be addressed imminently.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen confirmed Jones would hold out from training camp, adding the team is hopeful he will change his mind. The Falcons are under contractual authority to fine Jones $40,000 for each day he misses of camp, which begins Friday.
Jones is owed $10.5 million in 2018 as part of the contract he signed — a five-year, $71.3 million deal — in 2015 that included a $12 million signing bonus and $47 million guaranteed. His base salaries are $12.5 million (2019) and $11.4 million (2020) in the final two years of the deal.
Recently signed contracts for wide receivers have bumped the market ahead of Jones’ average annual value. The Buccaneers made Mike Evans the highest-paid receiver in the NFL at $82.5 million over five years but there are several others ahead of Jones in AAV, including Sammy Watkins with the Kansas City Chiefs, Brandin Cooks with the Los Angeles Rams and Jarvis Landry with the Cleveland Browns. Cooks and Landry were acquired via trade and Watkins signed as a free agent this offseason.
NFL Network reported Jones is comfortable sitting out until the team addresses his situation.
Jones participated in a private camp with quarterback Matt Ryan in California last week. Ryan said earlier this week he expects Jones to report with the veterans, who are due at Flowery Branch by 4 p.m. on Thursday.
The Falcons also drafted a wide receiver — Alabama’s Calvin Ridley — in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Ryan became the NFL’s highest-paid player at $30 million per season in the offseason and the Falcons are prioritizing the contracts of several other veterans, including defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, but working with less than $6 million under the existing salary cap.
—Field Level Media