There seems to be a growing a concern among Atlanta Falcons fans that Julio Jones is “aging” and not worth the extension he is about to receive.
This time last year, talking heads and fans alike in Atlanta all had varying opinions on Julio Jones wanting more money. It is easy say that the fan base was split 50/50 on whether to give it to him or not. There was no question that he was going to be worth the money if the Atlanta Falcons decided to make that move.
Here we are a year later and the scheduled extension for Julio is being negotiated at a pace none of us are privy to. What we can all agree on, is Julio is the best wide receiver in the league and worth whatever it takes to bring him back to end his career in Atlanta.
There is also a growing notion that at 30, Julio is quickly aging, and this contract will not be friendly to the team near the end of it. There is no question that this will be Julio’s last big NFL contract. There does seem to be a question of whether he can continue to produce at his same level.
There is no doubt Julio is among the greatest to ever play game and will go down as one of the top two or three receivers in the history of the game. When comparing him to other greats at this age, it becomes apparent very quickly that Julio is not close to being done in the terms of elite production.
We looked at four hall of fame wide receivers, all of which played well past the age of 34, which is what Julio would be at the end of a five-year deal. We simply looked at their basic production – catches, yards and touchdowns; no advanced statistics like catch rate, yards after catch, yards per game or touchdown percentage were considered.
1. Jerry Rice
All time great. Every wide receiver is compared to what Jerry was able to accomplish over his illustrious career. Jerry was never the fastest or flashiest, but he was the most reliable and he showed up every Sunday. From the ages of 30-34, Jerry was still the most productive receiver in the NFL. During those five seasons, Rice recorded 444 catches, 7385 yards and 61 touchdowns.
The most controversial of the all-time great wide receivers and is known just as much for his antics on and off the field as he is for his production. T.O. not being a first ballot hall of fame inductee is still one of the dumbest voter mistakes of the last decade. During that five year span from ages 30-34, Owens had 370 catches, 5600 yards and 57 touchdowns.
3. Cris Carter
All he does is catch touchdowns. That was proudly proclaimed every time Cris’s name was brought up during his career. Cris had the unfortunate pleasure of playing for some terrible Vikings teams during his career, yet still managed to be noticed. For many years, only Jerry Rice was the only wide receiver more productive. During that five year span for Carter he logged 475 catches, 5855 yards and 66 touchdowns.
Harrison killed it after he turned 30 and he was clearly one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets. That offense that featured Manning and Marvin is very similar to what the Falcons have now. Elite QB, arguably the best collection of wide receivers in the league, great run game led by a very versatile running back and an offensive line that featured an all pro center and okay line play everywhere else. During those five years, Harrison had 500 catches, 6619 yards and 60 touchdowns.
It is clear as crystal, the Julio’s career is far from over. Unlike the other four, Julio has the advantage of modern medicine and updated NFL rules that will allow him to be healthier longer and take advantage of his elite skill-set.