For all of this offseason, the major story around the Atlanta Falcons has been the team’s continued hope that they would sign Julio Jones to a new contract.
So far, no official deal has been announced, but now we’re starting to get some hints that the two sides might actually already have a working deal in place between them.
According to a report from Pro Football Talk, there is some belief that Jones and the Falcons might already have come to an agreement on a long term contract, but that because of an obscure NFL rule, the two sides cannot actually put pen to paper until Saturday, July 27.
That rule stipulates that a team and player cannot have an official contract finalized, signed, and in force until one year to the day that the two sides did their most recent contract readjustment.
Last summer, the Falcons announced their readjustment for Jones on July 27, meaning that the two sides cannot make their new deal official until that date in 2019, this Saturday.
Jones briefly held out of part of the Falcons’ offseason preparation last year as he awaited a new contract with the team, and, though he did not get a new deal, the team did arrange some of the payout on his existing contract in such a way that he eventually returned.
Atlanta converted $1.5 million of Jones’ 2018 salary and $2.9 million of his 2019 salary into a bonus, increasing the player’s payment for the 2018 season, with no cap effect to the team.
That change came with a promise from the organization that he would get a brand new long term contract extension in the 2019 offseason.
Jones has been publicly confident all offseason that his agents and the Falcons could come to a new agreement, saying that team owner Arthur Blank’s word was “golden,” and that he had complete faith that he would play the 2019 season under new terms.
This past season, Jones led the National Football League with 1,677 receiving yards, scored eight touchdowns, and over the past five seasons leads all receivers in first down conversions.
In his NFL career, Jones has established several records for receiving, boasting the league’s best ever mark for receiving yards per game, is a five time Pro Bowl selection, a two time First Team All Pro, and in 2015 he finished with the second most receiving yards in a single season ever, with 1,871.
Overall, Jones has 698 catches for 10,731 yards and 51 touchdowns. His yardage number is the most for any player up to his 30th birthday in NFL history.