By now, most Atlanta Falcons fans or even followers of the NFL know the deal. Julio Jones wants a new contract, the Falcons- GM Thomas Dimitroff and owner Arthur Blank- have given every indication they believe Julio should be the highest paid receiver in the league.
And after a rather awkward press conference earlier this week, one thing is sure. No one really knows if Julio Jones will play for the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. He waffled between a spate of answers ranging from “I’m going to be out there” to “I’m doing what I need to get ready” to, after being pressed agreeing that it was “fair” to say he’d play.
So what are the chances that he actually does sit out? And if he does, what does that mean for the Falcons?
Chances: Slim to none. About 8 percent.
Now, going into week one against the Minnesota Vikings and a top corner in Xavier Rhodes, you want to know your best guy is going to be available.. When your number one option is the best receiver in the game, that matters even more.
And while Jones has handled his contract negotiations in the best way possible, you’ve got to respect his terse response about the situation. And quite frankly, why should he risk injury when he has no guaranteed money left in his deal?
He has all the power in this situation. The Falcons have a great offense with him on the field. But that drops to average without him. Calvin Ridley isn’t ready to be a number one and Mohamed Sanu is better served as a second option or slot receiver. Julio’s absence would put even more pressure on the Falcons offensive line and run game.
Bottom line is the offense needs him more than he needs them. We know he’s tops in the league and Jones has nothing else to prove. Don’t read into his lack of preseason playing as a sign because as he said, “I haven’t played in the preseason for the past four years and look what I’ve done.”
But if he doesn’t, what does that mean for the team?
It means Jones is about his money. And he’s choosing the business side before anything else. It also means Dirk Koetter better get creative. The entire offense changes when you take him off the field. Look at the Lakers without Kobe, a completely different team. That’s what the Falcons would resemble with no Julio.
And let’s face it, you don’t want to let the contract dispute spill past week one. Heck, it’s a shame it’s even made it this far. But keep in mind, Julio said Blank’s word was gold and that he trust it’ll get done.
But if the Falcons don’t, they could be in for a rocky season and jobs on all levels could be on the line.