It doesn’t look like the story involving Julio Jones and his absence from Atlanta Falcons team activities as he attempts to force the team into renegotiating his contract is going away any time soon, especially if more players voice their support.
Former Atlanta teammate Roddy White already has given his support to Jones’ absence, and Jones’ 2011 draft mate A.J. Green became his latest supporter.
In a short interview with TMZ, Green said Jones is just doing what’s right for him in his career and that he’s rightly deserving of a bigger contract.
“He’s gotta do what he’s gotta do, man,” Green said. “The NFL: ‘Not For Long,’ so you gotta get it while it lasts.”
What seemed like a nonstory a couple of weeks ago when Jones did not attend the Falcons’ first voluntary sessions of organized team activities turned into a bigger issue when the star wide receiver skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp this month.
The former Alabama wideout has been working out both on his own in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as well as in various locations with Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver electee Terrell Owens.
Most reports say Jones seeks a raise on his current deal, given that many pass catchers in the league — all of whom Jones is better than and has outperformed — have signed bigger contracts than the one he agreed to in 2015.
Both Jones and Green signed contract extensions that year. Green signed a four-year, $60 million deal and Jones signed for five years and $71 million.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, coach Dan Quinn and quarterback Matt Ryan all continue to say the relationship between Jones and the team is a good one and his absence from the practices and workouts will barely, if at all, affect his preparation for and performance during the season.
Atlanta signed Ryan to a huge extension earlier this offseason, and team policy is usually to wait until a player enters the last year of a deal before discussions begin. After Ryan, the team had hoped to turn its focus on the soon-expiring rookie contracts of left tackle Jake Matthews and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. Jones has three years left on his contract.
Green and Jones will be forever linked by the 2011 draft in which they were chosen two picks apart: No. 4 and No. 6. With Green’s support of this holdout, it seems likely that Jones would return the favor when Green begins to feel he deserves more money from Cincinnati.