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Julio Jones trade news: Relationship with Falcons has been rocky for years; owner Arthur Blank ‘most upset’ by comments - The Athletic


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by Tori McElhaney & Jeff Schultz

 

 

Julio Jones trade news: Relationship with Falcons has been rocky for years; owner Arthur Blank ‘most upset’ by comments

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By Tori McElhaney and Jeff Schultz 29m agocomment-icon.png 1 save-icon.png

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank often has said he wanted Julio Jones to be a “Falcon for life.”

But on Monday, Jones said in a TV phone interview that he was “out of there” when asked of his future in Atlanta. And nobody was more hurt by it than Blank himself.

“You know who’s most upset about that? The owner,” one source told The Athletic on Tuesday.

Things between Jones and the Falcons have been deteriorating long before Monday’s live interview on “Undisputed,” and even long before trade talk started heating this offseason.

The issues between Jones and the Falcons go beyond his contract and the salary cap, according to multiple industry sources. If the Falcons really wanted to keep Jones around, they could make it work, the sources said. But things have been tenuous for some time.

The relationship hasn’t been the same since contentious contract negotiations in 2019, which resulted in a three-year, $66 million extension just before the start of the season. Jones sat out of training camp in 2018 before the Falcons adjusted his contract and considered doing the same in 2019 before Blank assured him he’d get a new deal. One source said it was much more difficult to negotiate that deal than the one Jones signed in 2015. Negotiations work best, the source said, when they can be win-win situations. Both sides believed they lost in this one.

Jones’ public comments Monday have put the Falcons in a challenging situation. While new GM Terry Fontenot and new coach Arthur Smith weren’t part of the group that negotiated that contract, they are dealing with the fallout. Smith faced reporters Tuesday and made clear the Falcons wouldn’t react publicly.

Smith said he wanted to keep conversations with Jones private, and wouldn’t answer any questions regarding potential roster moves out of respect for the players both present at OTAs and not present (i.e. Jones). So, the Falcons’ response to Jones’ “I’m out of there” comment to Shannon Sharpe on Monday was a resounding, “No comment.”

Asked whether or not Jones had access to the playbook and OTA meeting schedules, Smith said everyone on the current roster had access to everything. So, yes, Jones does, too.

If a trade talk was simmering before, it’s a rapid boil after the past 48 hours. The Falcons need cap space to sign their 2021 draft class, and the best ways to do that are to 1) part ways with Jones in a post-June 1 trade or 2) restructure or extend Grady Jarrett. Calls to broker the former came in well before the draft and well before Jones made any public comment about his future in Atlanta. And Fontenot has been relatively transparent from the beginning that he would take calls about Jones.

Where Jones goes, when he goes and if he goes are still undecided at this point with June 1 just a week away. Potential trade partners are wary about Jones’ base salary and giving up too much for an aging receiver who spent much of 2020 on the sideline.

But one source noted that wherever Jones lands, “he’ll have something to prove.”

OTA practice notes

• The Falcons had a high turnout of veterans at practice Tuesday, with Jones and Dante Fowler the most notable absentees. Recent signees Cordarrelle Patterson, Lee Smith and Duron Harmon were not at Tuesday’s voluntary practice, either.

• Calvin Ridley and Kaleb McGary were at practice but did not participate. Russell Gage played the role of No. 1 receiver in rotational practice reps, while Matt Gono filled in at right tackle.

• Jalen Mayfield was taking regular snaps at left guard alongside Drew Dalman at center with the rookie group, but Josh Andrews played between Matthews and Matt Hennessy when Ryan was under center. Matthews said Hennessy’s development from Year 1 to Year 2 has been interesting. He noted Hennessy has found his voice.

• Fabian Moreau was opposite AJ Terrell at cornerback with Isaiah Oliver lining up inside. Kendall Sheffield got limited outside reps behind Moreau and Terrell. Jaylinn Hawkins and Erik Harris also were heavily featured at safety, with Richie Grant behind them in the rotation.

 

 

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If true (and that's a big if), the thing which concerns me most there is Blank getting involved and assuring Jones he would get a new contract.

It's not all on him, as the FO should never let it get to that point, so plenty of blame to go around, but I don't want the owner being involved any contract negotiations. If the guys you hired to do that job can't do it without you, then you should fire them and get new guys.

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Just now, PuppyMonster said:

Kind of interesting if true. JJ signed a dumb *** contract before that extension. The only people he really should be mad at is himself and his agent. Get a better agent bro. 

I'm confused as to what the issue was with Jones' first extension. He signed for top dollar. Part of the reason why receivers were making more than him after was for the very reason that younger receivers' agents used his contract as a benchmark for theirs. He only became "underpaid" as a result of market inflation. 

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seems like a long time ago I remember some rumblings - not really inside reporting - but rumblings that maybe Julio had a thing about how much Matt was making versus him which had the feel to it like Julio was kind of jealous of Matt and resented what he was paid because he(Julio) was such a big reason for his success - didn't really give it much credence then.

wonder how good that relationship has been over the years - maybe one day 20yrs from now someone will write a book - LOL :D

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1 minute ago, ya_boi_j said:

If it's been rocky for years, why push for more money instead of freeing himself when he could? He could have easily broke the bank with any team

There were multiple years left on his contract at the time. He would've had to request a trade, and I highly doubt the FO at the time, considering Julio's level of play at the time, would've even entertained the idea

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Just now, ya_boi_j said:

If it's been rocky for years, why push for more money instead of freeing himself when he could? He could have easily broke the bank with any team

 

Yep, Julio signed the contract. Why be so pissed at the Falcons?

 

Be pissed at his agent for not getting Julio what he wanted and settling. What makes him think that same thing won't happen elsewhere?

 

At least Blank is pretty loyal in most cases. The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

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Just now, g-dawg said:

seems like a long time ago I remember some rumblings - not really inside reporting - but rumblings that maybe Julio had a thing about how much Matt was making versus him which had the feel to it like Julio was kind of jealous of Matt and resented what he was paid because he(Julio) was such a big reason for his success.

wonder how good that relationship has been over the years - maybe one day 20yrs from now someone will write a book - LOL :D

Until then, I'd rather not try to suggest Matt and Julio had issues without any real reason other than fan speculation to think so

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Just now, hjerry said:

There were multiple years left on his contract at the time. He would've had to request a trade, and I highly doubt the FO at the time, considering Julio's level of play at the time, would've even entertained the idea

Request the trade then. No sense in pushing for more money/extension when you know you aren't happy. 

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1 minute ago, g-dawg said:

seems like a long time ago I remember some rumblings - not really inside reporting - but rumblings that maybe Julio had a thing about how much Matt was making versus him which had the feel to it like Julio was kind of jealous of Matt and resented what he was paid because he(Julio) was such a big reason for his success - didn't really give it much credence then.

wonder how good that relationship has been over the years - maybe one day 20yrs from now someone will write a book - LOL :D

 

If that was the case, Julio and his camp would be delusional just because of what positions they play.

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1 minute ago, hjerry said:

Until then, I'd rather not try to suggest Matt and Julio had issues without any real reason other than fan speculation to think so

understood.

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1 minute ago, hjerry said:

I refer to the second half of my post

You don't know that, I don't know that. Who knows what they would have actually done had he requested it. Especially if he went public with the request. That may have been an easy 2 first rounders

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Just now, ya_boi_j said:

You don't know that, I don't know that. Who knows what they would have actually done had he requested it. Especially if he went public with the request. That was an easy 2 first rounders

Do you really think that TD of all people would've traded Julio in his prime who he traded 2 years worth of draft picks to acquire?

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1 minute ago, hjerry said:

Do you really think that TD of all people would've traded Julio in his prime who he traded 2 years worth of draft picks to acquire?

Wouldn't know without the opportunity presenting itself. No reason to flat out say no

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5 minutes ago, ya_boi_j said:

Wouldn't know without the opportunity presenting itself. No reason to flat out say no

True. But whenever you see a TD post-Falcons interview, he always talks about that trade lovingly. And how no one believed it was a good idea, especially Belichick,  but he did it and it worked out.

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