ESPN’s Chris Mortenson reported Tuesday morning that a Julio Jones holdout is indeed underway.
Julio Jones does not plan to report to Falcons on schedule Thursday without an adjustment to his contract, which has three years remaining, per league sources. He is set to make $10.5 million in 2018. The team is aware of his mindset at this time.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) July 24, 2018
This comes after statements that the Falcons would not be willing to look at restructuring his deal prior to the season, given he still has three years on his current contract. It also comes after Julio Jones was pictured with Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons receivers at Ryan’s annual passing camp.
Per Calvin Ridley’s SnapChat, Matt Ryan’s passing camp is happening. With Julio Jones in attendance. pic.twitter.com/jO4YorOnxf
— Wendy Adams (@wendyradio) July 16, 2018
While initial mumblings of a potential holdout were there, I am not sure too many people thought this situation would get this far, and it is now at the point that the Falcons have to be careful with their star receiver.
Sure, Atlanta has all the leverage in the world. They can fine Julio throughout his absence during training camp. There is no opportunity for Jones to go anywhere else. If he does wind up sitting out actual games, he will be throwing out hundreds of thousands of dollars each week, which is what this whole situation is about, right? Jones has no weight to throw around in this dispute, but he is the face of the franchise, and while the Falcons will likely not budge on the contract negotiations, it would be foolish for them to not try simmer down any type of hostility.
Jones is clearly upset that he will only be making $10.5 million this upcoming season, while Atlanta is busy extending Matt Ryan for five years, $30 million annually. The problem is Jones agreed to five-year deal, and holding out now is not only uncommon, it is borderline preposterous. There are very few NFL teams, if any, that would oblige to Julio’s request with three years remaining on his deal.
The antics from Jones that have gone on for a couple of months now are no longer some stunt. This is something Falcons fans have to genuinely be concerned with. In all likelihood, Atlanta continues to refuse a contract restructure and Jones eventually returns prior to the start of the season. That might seem like a win, however, it sets up for what could be a wild battle next offseason between Jones and Dimitroff. Dimitroff typically does not extend players until they are on their final year of their contract, but will he make an exception for the best wide receiver in franchise history and one of the best overall players in the game? If not, things could get ugly, if they have not already.