At $14.25 million per year, which puts him at No. 8 among all receivers and — perhaps more importantly — at less than half of what quarterback Matt Ryan makes, Jones clearly wants more. The problem is that he’s under contract for three more years, making it harder for the Falcons to justify giving him more.
The decision to skip mandatory minicamp takes the situation to the proverbial next level, making it clear that despite Jones’ past denials, there’s a problem. Even if neither Jones nor his agent, Jimmy Sexton, will admit it.
“I’m not going to comment publicly about the situation,” Sexton told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m going to let them say whatever they want to say.”
That last quote suggests that Sexton and Jones may not actually agree with whatever the Falcons have said, including the claim that talks have been “productive and constructive.”
The broader question for Jones, as it will be for any playing skipping mandatory minicamp, becomes whether he’ll risk incurring $40,000 in daily fines or surrender game checks if necessary to get what he wants.
And, yes, this is all very much unlike Jones. But Jones has been working out with Terrell Owens, and the team (per a league source) has already wondered whether T.O. is influencing Jones to take a stand. Also, as Jones begins making significant investments with his football money (including the purchase of KIA and Mazda dealerships in Alabama), he’s moving in circles with people who make much more money than he does playing football.
So if he’s going to make a big financial play on the field (which could better fund the financial plays he’s making off the field), now is the time to do it — especially with his 30th birthday looming.
Thus, although the shirtless driveway situps may never happen, Jones has entered a new phase of his career. And it’s going to get very delicate and/or very expensive for the Falcons.