Julio Jones absent at Falcons voluntary OTAs as contract extension looms

The Atlanta Falcons began voluntary organized team activities on Monday with one notable absence — wide receiver Julio Jones.

The six-time Pro Bowler — who is in the midst of negotiating a contract extension — did not report to the start of OTAs, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Jones skipped OTAs and mandatory minicamp last season as he sought a renegotiated deal. He eventually reported to training camp after working out an undisclosed contract adjustment with a promise to discuss a renegotiated deal this year.

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Those talks are still pending.

Falcons ‘very encouraged’ with talks

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told The Athletic earlier in May that he’s “very encouraged” about contract talks with Jones’ agent Jimmy Sexton.

“Both parties are in a good place,” Dimitroff said. “There’s no timeline but I’m not worried. Julio will be around while we’re working on it.”

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones looks on during a practice. (AP)
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones looks on during a practice. (AP)

Jones missing OTAs not a big surprise

Jones was not around for Monday’s OTAs, but that shouldn’t signal any red flags as they are designated as voluntary.

Jones hinted to ESPN in April that he might miss OTAs to do his own training, but that he planned to be at mandatory practices.

"I'm just working on me right now," Jones told ESPN. "I've got a great relationship with the organization. I'm just working on me. That's it. It's no set time where I need to be in-house. Mandatory stuff, I'll be there. As long as I'm training, they understand it."

He also told ESPN that his desire for a new deal didn’t necessarily entail a demand to be the league’s highest-paid wide receiver.

"Me, personally, I don't really care about as far as being the highest-paid receiver, man," Jones said. "It's a number.”

New ceiling for WR market

The top end of the wide receiver market has been reset with recent deals for Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr.

Brown signed a three-year, $50.1 million deal with the Oakland Raiders after being traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Beckham signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the New York Giants before being traded to the Cleveland Browns.

Jones has two years and $21 million remaining on a five-year, $71.3 million deal he signed in 2015. With Beckham making $18 million a year, he’s in line for a substantial raise if the two sides reach a deal.

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