Alabama in the Pros

Falcons’ Julio Jones closing in on being NFL’s highest-paid receiver

Jasen Vinlove - USA TODAY Sports

It’s about time. 

General manager Thomas Dimitroff and the Atlanta Falcons are finally having a serious discussion on negotiation the contract of Julio Jones. He enters his ninth season in the National Football League this fall and is widely regarded as the best receiver in the league. 

The 30-year-old is the face of the Falcons and despite Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints getting a major deal of $100 million for five years ($61 million guaranteed) on Wednesday, Dimitroff wants to make Jones the NFL’s highest-paid at his position. 

Per Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com, Dimitroff said the Falcons know what Julio is in this league. 

“We have a very good idea of approximately where he’s going to be, which I won’t share specifically,” Dimitroff said. “The good thing is we’ve never been held by our owner to be limiting someone and we’re very good with our football players here. We feel very proud about how we approach it.” 

RELATED: Falcons’ Julio Jones soars at No. 9 on NFL’s Top 100 Players for 2019

Since being selected No. 6 overall in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Jones has recorded 1,000+ yards receiving in six of his first eight seasons. He’s hit the mark in five consecutive years, dating back to 2014. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has twice led the league in yards (2015, 2018) and brought in 1,677 yards with eight touchdowns on 113 receptions last season.  

Jones is a six-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time NFL All-Pro first team honoree, and he was voted No. 9 on NFL’s Top 100 Players for 2019.

His camp and the Falcons are optimistic on the contract getting done, seeing how the former Alabama star has not held out of training camp. 

“And again, where we approach it with Julio, we look at everything, of course,” Dimitroff said. “We believe that he should be the highest-paid player – sorry, I did not say player – the highest-paid receiver in the league. And I know he believes that. It’s just how we’re going to approach this and how we’re going to get it done. I believe it’s right around the corner but I don’t know when it is.” 

To dissect more of the importance of Jones to the Falcons, reflect on the 2016 season. 

He was a huge part of Matt Ryan’s MVP year, as he brought in 1,409 of Ryan’s career-high 4,944 passing yards.

Ryan averaged a career-high 309 passing yards a game and Jones hauled in an average of 100.6 yards receiving per matchup. With Jones by his side, Ryan was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 and of his four Pro Bowls (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016), only one came before the big-play receiver arrived. Jones had 87 yards receiving on four catches in Super Bowl 51 versus the New England Patriots, unfortunately the Falcons lost 34-28. 

His goal in the fall is to reach 3,000 yards. Hopefully, a new contract is next to it.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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