Titans' Julio Jones was unhappy with 2019 contract extension
Despite signing a 2019 contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons that made him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL based on annual average, current Tennessee Titans receiver Julio Jones wasn’t happy with the deal at the time.
This comes from Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who says the veteran wideout felt that the contract “wasn’t sufficient respect,” per The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz.
“Look back at the Julio situation in 2019. We, being Thomas, coach Quinn, the player and his agent (Jimmy Sexton), were all kind of at odds with each other,” Blank admitted. “We got a contract done. We felt it was very generous. It made him the top paid receiver in NFL history (with $64 million of $66 million guaranteed). But for whatever reason, he felt it wasn’t sufficient respect. I don’t know why he’d feel that way, but he did feel that way.”
From there, Blank says the relationship with one of the greatest players in franchise history changed, and he stated the obvious, which was that the future Hall-of-Famer wanted out of Atlanta before being dealt.
“It changed,” Blank said. “And if you spoke to the players on the team, not that they would say anything, but I think they would tell you the same thing.
“He just wasn’t … Look, he gave us 10 great years. He’s going to be a Hall of Fame player. He was a good teammate for all that period of time. (But) his ability or willingness to practice the way he did early in his career was different. There were some people who were in the building who had an effect on him. He wanted out, and the last thing coach (Arthur) Smith wants is a player who doesn’t want to be here.”
Jones enters the 2021 campaign with a lot of doubters. Some question his viability at the age of 32, often pointing to his history with injuries even though he has suited up in 13 games or more in eight of his 10 seasons.
Part of that argument comes from the fact that Jones is coming off a season in which he missed seven games, and the fact that he has played through several different injuries during his career.
But it’s important to note that Jones was still playing at a high level before going down last season. He also admitted, per to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that he didn’t take the proper time to heal up.
“For me, at the end of the day I believe in me. I know what I have left in the tank. We’re talking about age, it’s 32. I’m young. In football you can say it’s old, but you either do it or you don’t. This game don’t change for me. I’m still fast. I’m still strong. To the games last year, I had an issue (grade 2 quad hamstring strain) where I didn’t take enough time to heal up properly, but you know, that was just my decision, going out there and just playing. No excuses, things like that. I’ll be ready to go. For those who are questioning my health and things like that, just stayed tuned.”
Jones suffered a minor injury during practice on Aug. 2 and has since been taking it slowly. However, he has looked healthy in recent practices and should no doubt be ready for Week 1, barring any setbacks.
And if he can maintain the form he has shown throughout his career, or even something close to it, the Titans might be faced with a situation in which they have to pay him more than the $11.5 million he’s set to make in 2022.
If things go south, the Titans will have the option of cutting Jones, which would incur a dead cap hit of just $2 million.