Falcons' Arthur Blank: Goal Is for Julio Jones Contract to Be Done by Week 1

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2019

MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 08:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons looks on prior to the preseason game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons are aiming to have a contract extension for Julio Jones finalized before the 2019 regular season.

"I would hope so, but I don't know that," team owner Arthur Blank said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. "We'll have to let things take their course. I know that we are definitely in serious negotiations. It's our goal and their goal as well to get it done before the start of the season."

Jones has two years remaining on his current deal, which will pay out a little over $26.3 million.

In terms of average salary, Jones ranks only 13th among wide receivers ($14.25 million), which doesn't reflect his contributions relative to his peers. The 30-year-old caught 113 passes for a league-high 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

The Falcons likely have framework for a possible extension for Jones after Michael Thomas signed a five-year contract with the New Orleans Saints that's worth $96.25 million—a total that can climb to $100 million. Thomas' $19.25 million annual salary is the highest for a receiver.

Given his age, the Falcons may be hesitant to give Jones a five-year deal like Thomas', but he could feasibly match or surpass Thomas in terms of yearly earnings. Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox estimated Jones could get $81 million over four years, with $50 million guaranteed.

ESPN's Jeff Darlington reported in July on SportsCenter that an agreement between Jones and the Falcons was "imminent" with training camp getting underway.

Blank downplayed any concerns that might have grown with the two sides failing so far to reach a compromise: "The negotiations continue to move along in a positive way. It's a big contract and it's complex and what have you. It takes a little more time than we'd like. Probably a little more time than he would like, but I know we are in a good place."

Jones told reporters in July he didn't plan on playing in the preseason but made it clear he wasn't going to hold out in the absence of an extension.

The Falcons open the regular season Sept. 8 against the Minnesota Vikings.