Roddy White thinks Julio Jones should be paid more than Antonio Brown
Jones' former teammate says making Jones the NFL's highest-paid receiver is a 'no-brainer'
Julio Jones might be one of the league's best wide receivers but his compensation is indicative of something less than that. But that's the nature of NFL contracts -- they're outdated not long after they're signed. And for Jones, who inked a five-year, $71.25 million contract extension in August 2015 that included $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 helps explain why he's chosen to skip Atlanta's mandatory minicamp.
"It's a tough situation, especially for [Jones] because he just signed a deal three years ago," White told ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure, "but the numbers would tell you he's way, way, way outplayed being paid the amount of money that they've given him.
"A lot of times, you don't want to rub people the wrong way. On the other hand, when people look at the numbers and start stacking them up against people that are making more money than him, then it verifies that he should be paid a lot more money. Yes, he deserves to be the highest-paid [receiver]. I think he does, based on performance. For me, that's a no-brainer."
A season ago, Brown had 101 receptions for 1,533 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games. He was the NFL's most efficient wideout, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. Jones wasn't far behind; he had 88 catches for 1,444 yards but had just three touchdowns in 16 starts. He ranked sixth in efficiency behind Brown, Marvin Jones, Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas.
The '17 season was also Jones' least productive 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.
"For your best player, how far as you willing to go?" White asked. "Do you want him to be happy or do you want him there looking around the league saying, 'I can't believe every week I have to go out and do this and this guy is over here making $17 million per year, and he ain't do nothing I have to go out there and do.'"
Meanwhile, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff issued a statement on where things stand between the organization and Jones.
"We have been in contact with Julio and his representation," Dimitroff said Monday. "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 minicamp."
Back in May, Jones told TMZ that his absence this offseason wasn't even 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."
Whatever the reasons, Jones won't be with his teammates for mandatory minicamp, which begins Tuesday.
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