Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones told reporters he "doesn't know" if he'll play in Week 1's matchup against the Minnesota Vikings but is planning on being on the field amid contract talks with the team.
"I don't know. I mean, like, what I'm trying to do right now is be ready," Jones said when asked if he would "definitely" play. "If I'm gonna play, if I'm not gonna play, I'm trying to be out there regardless. Coming back from injury and things like that. But ultimate thing is just being ready when my number is called."
Jones further clarified to say it's "fair" to say he is planning to be on the field. The Pro Bowler is in the midst of a contract negotiation that has taken place over the entire offseason. He has two years remaining on his contract but no guaranteed money left on the deal.
"Outside of the walls, I recognize that it's a big topic," Falcons coach Dan Quinn told reporters. "There are fantasy points out there. There is a lot going on. Inside the walls, that is not what we discuss. His communication and his involvement with receivers and quarterbacks, it's been a big deal. That's been pretty consistent for him the whole time throughout."
Jones has hauled in at least 80 passes and racked up 1,400-plus yards receiving the last five years. He's also been remarkably healthy, missing just three games over that span while positioning himself to set the franchise receiving marks.
The Falcons appear committed to paying Jones sooner rather than later, so it would make sense for both sides to get a deal done now. Jones will feel more comfortable putting his 30-year-old body on the line for the team, and the Falcons won't have to worry about having their best offensive player sitting out of their season opener.
The copacetic nature of these negotiations is quietly hiding a ticking clock to get a deal done.