A.J. Green on Julio Jones Contract Holdout: 'He Gotta Do What He Gotta Do'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2018

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green participates during practice at the NFL football team's training camp, Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo/Associated Press

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green threw his support behind fellow wideout Julio Jones as Jones seeks a new deal with the Atlanta Falcons.

"He gotta do what he gotta do, man," Green said to TMZ Sports. "The NFL stands for 'Not For Long,' so you gotta get it while it lasts."

The Falcons confirmed earlier this month Jones was skipping the team's mandatory minicamp as he waits for an improved deal.

Although Jones is under contract through 2020, his holdout makes sense for two reasons.

The five-time Pro Bowler doesn't have any more guaranteed money heading his way, which makes it easier for the Falcons to cut him down the line. According to Over the Cap, Atlanta would save $12.5 million in 2019 and assume $2.4 million in dead salary cap money. The team could also trim $11.4 million in 2020 with nothing counting against the cap.

There's little reason to believe the Falcons would want to release Jones, but an extension would provide him with some more long-term security.

Beyond that, Jones is understandably looking to receive a salary in line with his position as one of the NFL's best wide receivers. Since 2014, only Antonio Brown has more receiving yards (6,349) than Jones (6,317), according to Pro Football Reference. He's also second in receptions (411) during that span.

After Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins and Jarvis Landry received new contracts recently, Jones has slipped to eighth in average salary ($14.2 million) among receivers, per Spotrac. He has even slipped behind Davante Adams ($14.5 million).

The Falcons could test Jones' resolve by seeing how long he's willing to hold out, but they'd risk alienating one of their best players by doing so. That's the kind of mistake a team with Super Bowl aspirations can ill afford to make before the 2018 season gets underway.

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