Julio Jones, Falcons Agree to Revised Contract; WR Will Report to Camp

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2018

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons warms up prior to the game against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons and wide receiver Julio Jones came to an agreement on his contract, the team announced Wednesday night.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the two sides agreed to a revised contract that will adjust his 2018 salary. That will allow the sides to negotiate a long-term extension at a later date without the drama of a holdout this summer. Jones will report to camp Thursday.

Jeff Schultz of The Athletic reported the Falcons converted some of Jones' 2019 base salary into a bonus worth about $2 million for 2018.

"We have had continued dialogue all offseason with Julio and his representation," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement. "We have come to an agreement with Julio, and we will re-address everything in 2019. I appreciate everyone's hard work and communication on this.

"This adjustment does not impede us from working on other extensions with other key members of our football team. We will continue to work on those contracts going forward."

The 29-year-old was initially scheduled to earn a $10.5 million base salary in 2018 after inking a five-year, $71.2 million extension in 2015. According to Rapoport, Wednesday's move is "cap neutral, so it won't affect other deals getting done."

Jones continued to be one of the NFL's top pass-catchers in 2017, finishing with 88 receptions for 1,444 yards and three touchdowns. Football Outsiders ranked Jones seventh in DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement) among qualified wideouts, and he sat fourth in Bleacher Report's NFL1000 year-end ranking of the top outside receivers.

Atlanta could've played hardball with Jones and tested his resolve. He held out of the team's mandatory minicamp in June, and his holdout would've become more and more costly the longer he stayed away. The Falcons could've even considered trading Jones since his value remains high.

Ultimately, reaching an agreement on a revised contract is the optimal move for both parties since it will ensure that Jones reports to camp while keeping lines of communication open.

The Falcons, meanwhile, ensure one of their best players remains happy and committed ahead of the 2018 season.

Atlanta selected Calvin Ridley with the 26th overall pick in the 2018 draft. Ridley left Alabama having caught 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns, and he's clearly going to be a big part of the team's offense in the future.

Still, Jones is arguably the second-most important offensive player for the Falcons behind Matt Ryan. He'll be pivotal in helping Atlanta reach the playoffs for the third straight season.