Falcons owner Arthur Blank was recently asked about a possible extension for Pro Bowl WR Julio Jones.
Blank stressed that they value Jones as a player, but he believes this is a decision for the team’s new head coach to make.
“Well, I think it’s a decision that the head coach will look at the talent on the roster,” Blank said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN. “Julio’s been a great player for us and a great talent, and he represents us on the field and off the field as well as anybody else.
“As the owner, it’s not my decision to make. The new coach will spend a great deal of time assessing the roster and all of our players, and obviously Julio is a critical one.”
Atlanta is expected to announce the hiring Seahawks DC Dan Quinn on Monday and host a press conference the following day, so it could still be a few weeks before any major decisions regarding extensions are made.
McClure writes that it would be foolish for the Falcons to not lock up Jones to a long-term contract based on the fact that he’s among the best receivers in the game, and Atlanta parted with five draft picks to take him back in 2011.
According to McClure, Jones could target a long-term contract that’s in the neighborhood of deals signed by Lions WR Calvin Johnson and Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, which would cost the Falcons around $16 million per year and close to $45 million guaranteed.
Jones, soon to be 26, finished out his four-year, $16.183 million rookie contract, but the Falcons protected themselves by picking up his fifth-year option that will pay him a non-guaranteed salary of $10.176 million for the 2015 season.
The Falcons can still negotiate a long-term deal that will reduce his 2015 cap figures and keep him under team control for the foreseeable future, even after exercising his option.
In 2014, Jones caught 104 passes for 1,593 yards receiving and six touchdowns over the course of 15 games. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 6 receiver out of 110 qualifying players this past season.
We’ll have more regarding a potential long-term deal for Jones as the news is available.