The Atlanta Falcons are confident they will re-sign wide receiver Julio Jones to a new long-term extension before training camp begins next month, ESPN reported Tuesday.
Jones has two years remaining on his deal, which owes him $9.6 million in 2019 and $11.4 million in 2020. He signed a contract adjustment as training camp opened last July -- giving him $4.4 million, including $2.9 million from his 2019 salary, up front -- and the team reportedly promised to do a full extension this offseason. That came after Jones missed the Falcons' entire offseason program and threatened to hold out into training camp.
The 30-year-old again missed voluntary workouts this summer, but he showed up for mandatory minicamp. He told reporters in April he isn't concerned with being the NFL's highest-paid wide receiver.
In his eighth season, Jones is coming off of his sixth Pro Bowl selection -- fifth in a row -- after catching 113 passes for a league-high 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He remains the NFL's all-time leader in career receiving yards per game (96.7).
--Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played through broken bones in his back last year, according to a team reporter.
Mike O'Hara, a long-time Lions beat reporter who now works for the team's website, said of Stafford on a recent episode of his podcast, "He had a broken back last year. Broken bones in his back."
After taking 12 hits against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 2, Stafford was listed with a back injury for the final four weeks of the 2018 season, including limited participation and questionable designations for games in Weeks 14-16. He played in all four games, throwing for 691 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Lions went 2-2.
--The former NFL running back who wore "He Hate Me" on his jersey during his season in the XFL was found safe after going missing in South Carolina, according to a report from the Charlotte Observer.
Police said Torrold "Rod" Smart was located and was OK, the Observer reported. Earlier in the day, the Lancaster (S.C.) County Sheriff's Office said Smart was a "missing endangered person" and was seeking information regarding his whereabouts.
Smart, 42, played college football at Western Kentucky. As an undrafted free agent in 2000, he was signed by the then-San Diego Chargers but was released. The following year, he played for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, then later in 2001 played in the Canadian Football League and with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played four more seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
--New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is headed for paydirt, one way or another.
General manager Mickey Loomis said on Mad Dog Sports Radio that the Saints and Thomas have begun talks geared toward a long-term deal. Thomas, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, had 125 receptions for 1,405 yards in 2018.
"We've had some conversations, and I like keeping that close to the vest until there's something to report, but look, we love what Mike's done for us," Loomis said. "He's a fantastic player, one of the best at his position in the league, and hopefully we can keep him a Saint for a long time as well."
--More than 5,000 Denver Broncos fans attended owner Pat Bowlen's memorial service, according to the team.
Bowlen died last week at age 75 after a fight with Alzheimer's disease. The team hosted a public memorial service at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, where fans walked past photos and memorabilia from Bowlen's life and watched a video tribute in his honor.
Former Broncos players such as John Elway, Rod Smith and Peyton Manning also attended the service. Bowlen will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame posthumously this August.
--Former Senior Bowl director and Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage is expected to join the New York Jets' personnel department under new general manager Joe Douglas, NFL Network reported.
Per the report, Savage's role is not yet fully defined, but an announcement "should come this week," absent a setback. NFL Network also reported Ravens assistant director of pro personnel Chad Alexander will join the Jets as director of player personnel.
ESPN reported the Jets are hiring Indianapolis Colts vice president of player personnel Rex Hogan as assistant general manager, after Hogan served as New York's senior director of college scouting from 2015-17.
--Field Level Media