When the Falcons convene on Tuesday for a mandatory minicamp, the biggest question continues to be whether receiver Julio Jones will be there.
Jones skipped all Organized Team Activities, reportedly because he’s not happy with his contract. And while he has denied it during an impromptu discussion with TMZ, the prevailing view continues to be that he’s sending the team a message about dissatisfaction with his compensation package, which averages $14.25 million and pays $10.5 million this year.
But with three years remaining on his deal, what would skipping mandatory minicamp and/or holding out of training camp accomplish? It could be that Jones opted simply to flag the issue by skipping voluntary OTAs this year, and that he’ll show up from this point forward, hopeful that the new deal comes after the current season. If it doesn’t, then next year Jones may opt for a different tactic.
It’s not entirely clear what Jones wants, other than more. Though some think he’s not happy being the eighth highest-paid receiver in the NFL, the thing bugging him the most could be that quarterback Matt Ryan‘s recent deal has a new-money average of $30 million per year, more than twice what Jones earns.
There’s a wild card in this equation, which per a league source has gotten the team’s attention. Jones has been working out with Terrell Owens, who wasn’t afraid to do what he had to do to get fairly compensated. Most recently, the duo was spotted in L.A., catching passes from new USC quarterback J.T. Daniels.
While Jones has been, from a personality standpoint, the exact opposite of T.O., they have three important things in common: They have off-the-charts God-given skills, Hall of Fame-caliber work ethics, and they both went through periods of being woefully underpaid. Owens dealt with his situation one way, Jones is dealing with his a different way.
Still, it’s out of character for Jones to skip practice, even if it’s voluntary. Come Tuesday, we’ll find out whether this mid-career curveball will include staying away from practices he’s contractually required to attend.
Semi-educated guess? He’ll be there. Come next year, however, Jones may push harder for a new contract. If he doesn’t get one, maybe he’ll even inch a little closer toward shirtless driveway situps.