Falcons owner Arthur Blank expressed optimism regarding the contract situations of star players Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones as the team heads into its mandatory minicamp next week.
The Falcons prioritized contract extensions for all three players entering the offseason, and negotiations have been ongoing in each case. None of the three have participated in the team’s voluntary organized team activities.
Julio Jones told ESPN in April he plans to be in attendance for the “mandatory stuff,” but it remains unclear if Jarrett and Deion Jones plan to do the same for the three-day minicamp that begins Tuesday.
“We have a salary cap, we have limits, that we have to think about not only today but tomorrow, and we have to balance all that off,” Blank told ESPN. “But these are three great young men that we care deeply about, both personally and professionally. They are going to be Falcons for life.
“I’m not worried about getting the deals done. I’m speaking on behalf of Atlanta and Atlanta fans. Thomas [Dimitroff] is working hard to get them done. Coach [Dan] Quinn is supportive as well. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when.”
Julio Jones, a six-time Pro Bowl receiver with five consecutive seasons of at least 1,400 yards, has two years and more than $21 million remaining on his contract. The Falcons vowed to address his contract situation this offseason after making an adjustment which allowed Jones to net an additional $2.9 million in 2018. Now, he appears on track to become the league’s highest-paid receiver with a new deal that could potentially reach $20 million per season.
The Falcons placed the one-year, $15,209,000 franchise tag on Jarrett, who has developed into one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in the game. The Falcons have until July 15 to reach an extension with him. If no extension is reached, then Jarrett will play under the tag, and the team won’t be able to extend him until after the Dec. 29 regular-season finale at Tampa Bay. The highest-paid defensive tackle is Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald at $22.5 million per year.
Deion Jones, a one-time Pro Bowler and the Falcons’ leading tackler in 2016 and 2017, is entering the final year of his rookie deal at $1,069,860. He recovered from a significant foot injury and is expected to continue his ascent as one of the top coverage linebackers in the game. The highest-paid inside linebacker is C.J. Mosley of the New York Jets at $17 million per year, with seven such linebackers making at least $10 million per year.
Jarrett’s cap figure for this season — at least for now — is set with the franchise tag, while Julio Jones’ current cap number is $13,466,666. Deion Jones carries a $1,446,342 cap figure without a new contract.
The cap hits for Jarrett and Julio Jones most likely would shrink significantly with extensions, while Deion Jones’ number could grow. The Falcons are estimated to have $6.5 million in cap room at this current time.
If any of the three decided not to show for all three days of mandatory minicamp, they would be subjected to a $88,650 fine.
Falcons pass-rusher Vic Beasley, who is entering the final year of his deal after the Falcons picked up his fifth-year option for $12,810,000, told ESPN that he’ll “definitely” attend minicamp after skipping OTAs.