When the Falcons report for training camp on Thursday, Julio Jones won't be there. One of the league's best wide receivers skipped offseason workouts and now, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, Jones is willing to skip the entirety of training camp while he waits for a pay raise -- despite the Falcons making it clear that they had no intentions of doing so at this time.
Nonetheless, Rapoport adds, "[Jones] appears resolute in his mindset."
Jones risks $40,000 per day in fines.
Jones inked a five-year, $71.25 million contract extension in August 2015 (including $47 million guaranteed) that now makes him ninth in average annual salary among all wideouts.
And while it's one thing to make less than Antonio Brown ($17 million annually, on average), it's something completely different to be looking up at Sammy Watkins ($16 million) and Davante Adams ($14.5 million). Jones is set to make $14.2 million in 2018, which goes a long way in explaining his decision to stay away from the Falcons' facility.
Jones ranked sixth in efficiency among wideouts last season, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. He had 88 catches for 1,444 yards but managed just three touchdowns in 16 starts. But 2017 was Jones' least productive season since 2013; in 2016 he averaged 17.0 yards per reception and scored six times; in 2015 he had a whopping 136 receptions for 1,871 yards and had 104 receptions the season before that. Still, Jones is the centerpiece of the Falcons' downfield attack, one that starts with franchise quarterback Matt Ryan and now includes rookie first-rounder Calvin Ridley.
Back in May, Jones told TMZ that his absence during offseason wasn't about money.
"It's not even about [my contract]," Jones said at the time. "Everybody wants a story right now. There's no story to be told. I'm just working. I'm getting myself better. I'm just working on myself right now. There's no bad blood between me and the team or anything like that. Everybody on the outside trying to look in and destroy what we built there."
It sure sounds like this is, in fact, about money. And that's understandable. But the Falcons don't appear interested in negotiating a new deal, what with Jones having three years left on his current contract.
Now the question becomes: who blinks first?