Julio Jones’ holdout is still ongoing, and while he was spotted at Matt Ryan’s passing camp yesterday, there is still a cloud of doubt over the organization. While it is a positive that Jones is with his teammates at this time, it is clear he is unhappy with the Falcons. I understand both sides of the coin. The Falcons gave Julio a very generous contract of 5-years/$71 million. This year, Atlanta has him fairly cheap. $10.5 million base with a $2.4 million bonus, only a $12.9 million cap hit. He’s scheduled to make a total of $14.9 million next season – a $12.5 million base with a $2.4 million bonus. He signed the contract, he should honor it. I also see where Julio is coming from. Owners don’t care about the personal aspect of this business. If Julio was to suffer a tragic injury and his performance declined, he would be cut to save salary in a heartbeat if he wasn’t worth the money. The NFL is harsh business. Look at Odell Beckham Jr. Obviously, the Giants aren’t going to give up on him, however, he made $1.8 million last season. That’s peanuts for an NFL Wide Receiver (ranked 43rd for receivers). What if the injury was worse, similar to what happened to Zach Miller, who almost had to have his leg amputated?
Enter Brandin Cooks. Cooks received a 5-year/$81 million extension from the Los Angeles Rams. That puts him tied for 4th (with Sammy Watkins) among highest paid receivers in the league. Julio Jones now sits at 8th. Here’s the numbers for the guys ahead of him for the 2017-2018 season, which even Julio will admit was a down year for him under Steve Sarkisian’s watch.
- Antonio Brown – 101 Rec, 1533 Yards, 15.2 Y/R, 9 TDs
- Mike Evans – 71 Rec, 1001 Yards, 14.1 Y/R, 5 TDs
- DeAndre Hopkins- 96 Rec, 1378 Yards, 14.4 Y/R, 13 TDs
- Sammy Watkins- 39 Rec, 593 Yards, 14.2 Y/R, 8 TDs
Brandin Cooks- 65 Rec, 1082 Yards, 16.6 Y/R, 7 TDs
- Jarvis Landry- 112 Rec, 987 Yards, 8.8 Y/R, 9 TDs
- AJ Green- 75 Rec, 1078 Yards, 14.4 Y/R, 8 TDs
- Davante Adams- 74 Rec, 885 Yards, 12.0 Y/R, 10 TDs
- Julio Jones- 88 Rec, 1444 Yards, 16.4 Y/R, 3 TDs
So in a “down year” for Julio, he still stands 2nd in yards, 3rd in Receptions, and 2nd in Y/R, a meager .2 yards behind Cooks on this list. It’s obvious he needs a pay raise. He’s more valuable to this franchise than most of these guys are on their best day. The obvious outlier here is Sammy Watkins. I think Kansas City signing a guy as injury prone as him to an albatross contract is a gross overpay. Even though Mike Evans had a down year, he still belongs in the conversation with Hopkins, Jones, and Brown. A fair contract for him would be a re-work in the 5 year, $83.5 Million range, which would pay him slightly more than Evans at $16.7 million per year. HOWEVER, a player holding out with three years left on their deal is absolutely absurd. I think Terrell Owens needs to get out of Julio’s ear and let him play football. Two years is an acceptable time frame to discuss a new deal. Julio only scoring three touchdowns last year is a product of the offense, but he needs to get out on the field with a chip on his shoulder and prove he’s worth a new deal. I love Julio Jones, he’s one of my favorite players in the entire history of the NFL, but he really needs to evaluate if the extra $1.8 million is worth the distraction it’s causing his teammates and coaches in the first Super Bowl window the Falcons have had in a while.