Terrell Owens may be 44 years old and headed to a Hall of Fame enshrinement later this summer but he still has designs on playing again in the NFL. He's already pitched his talents to 49ers general manager John Lynch.
And while there has yet to be any interest, Owens continue to train. Earlier this week, he blazed a hand-timed 4.4 40-yard dash. One of those hand-timers: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. We mention this because Jones, who skipped mandatory minicamp with his Falcons teammates, has been training with Owens -- reportedly much to the consternation of some in the organization.
"The fact that he's running around with Terrell Owens has the front office uneasy," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter said during a recent radio appearance on ESPN Charlotte. "The fact that he held out and is bucking the whole 'brotherhood' thing has them a little bit uneasy too. They'll have to mend some fences, no question about it, once he returns."
Owens seemed surprised when informed of the Falcons' unease.
"I have no idea where all of this is coming from," Owens told Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman this week. "I have nothing to do with Julio except training. This is the media trying [to] create something that's not even there. It's very unfortunate. What possible reason would they have to create that narrative?"
This is all about Jones getting a new contract. He inked a five-year, $71.25 million contract extension in August 2015 that included $47 million guaranteed, that nearly three years later makes him ninth in average annual salary among all wideouts. His compensation isn't commensurate with his production, but that's the nature of NFL contracts -- they're outdated not long after they're signed.
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.
As it turns out, the 2017 season was 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 now, the Falcons and Jones are trying to work things out. And earlier this week, general manager Thomas Dimitroff issued a statement on where things stand.
"We have been in contact with Julio and his representation," Dimitroff said last week. "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 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."
And working to get better includes training with Owens.