Falcons owner Arthur Blank went on the record about how things deteriorated between the team and WR Julio Jones to the point that the star receiver was traded this past summer. Blank acknowledged the seeds of dissent were planted during contract negotiations two years ago. Jones got an extension with three years left on his deal that made him the NFL’s highest-paid receiver.
“It’s easy to look back with hindsight and say, ‘Should we have done that?’” Blank said via the Athletic’s Jeff Schultz “Look back at the Julio situation in 2019. We, being Thomas, coach Quinn, the player and his agent (Jimmy Sexton), were all kind of at odds with each other. We got a contract done. We felt it was very generous. It made him the top paid receiver in NFL history (with $64 million of $66 million guaranteed). But for whatever reason, he felt it wasn’t sufficient respect. I don’t know why he’d feel that way, but he did feel that way.”
Blank said things between the team and Jones didn’t really recover, with his lack of practice becoming an issue.
“He just wasn’t … Look, he gave us 10 great years. He’s going to be a Hall of Fame player. He was a good teammate for all that period of time. (But) his ability or willingness to practice the way he did early in his career was different. There were some people who were in the building who had an effect on him. He wanted out, and the last thing coach (Arthur) Smith wants is a player who doesn’t want to be here.”
Falcons QB Matt Ryan said he never considered forcing his way out of Atlanta or look to change organizations this offseason.
“It never crossed my mind,” Ryan said, via ProFootballTalk. “I mean, I know that there’s been lots of that in the NFL right now. A lot of people, specifically at the quarterback position, moving in different directions. And everybody’s situation is unique. For me, I never wanted to do that. I love being here. I love being a part of this organization. Arthur Blank has been incredible to me, from the minute I was drafted. He’s incredible to my family. So I’m thankful for that opportunity. I love being in this city, living here. It’s home for my wife and I and our kids. And it’s a good place to live. And I want to stay here. I want to be here for a long time. For me, it never really was a part of my thinking.”
- ESPN’s Dan Graziano says a trade involving Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore is still not out of the question, and he highlights the Saints as a team that makes a lot of sense.
- Saints GM Mickey Loomis said placing WR Michael Thomas on the PUP list for the first six weeks of the season allows him time to recover from surgery: “We want Mike to be 100% healthy. He wants to be 100% healthy. This gives us the best opportunity to do that and at the same time manage our roster.” (Nick Underhill)