ATLANTA - Falcons four-time All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones will not attend the team’s mandatory minicamp, which is set for Tuesday through Thursday.
"We have been in contact with Julio and his representation,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement released by the team. “We will not discuss those conversations publicly except to say we feel they have been productive and constructive. We understand the concerns and thoughts from their perspective. Although not ideal, Julio informed us today he would not be attending mini-camp. We have much respect for him and what he means to our team, our city and our fans."
The Falcons were expecting Jones to take part in the entire offseason program, but after the market for wide receivers skyrocketed over the offseason, Jones apparently chose to work on his own.
Jones wasn’t the only high-profile player to skip OTAs around the NFL. New England quarterback Tom Brady and Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown also stayed away from OTAs.
One plausible reason for Jones’ absence is that he’s not happy with his contract, as the market shifted over the offseason with deals signed by Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, Cleveland’s Jarvis Landry and Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins.
Jones signed a five-year, $71.2 million contract extension Aug. 31, 2015.
The deal included $47 million in guaranteed money, with base salaries of $10.5 million (2018), $12.5 million (2019) and $11.4 million (2020). He’s set to be the seventh-highest paid wide receiver in the league, but has three years remaining on the deal.
The Falcons have not made it a practice of tearing up contracts with three years left. They reconfigured Roddy White’s contract in 2009 with one year left after a brief holdout.
Landry landed a five-year, $75-million deal with Cleveland, Evans signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with Tampa Bay and Watkins signed a three-year, $48 million deal with Kansas City.
The wide receiver market figures are expected to continue to surge, with deals for New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green on the horizon.
This article was written by D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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