Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has been quite a game changer in his first four seasons in the NFL, but it’s what he said Wednesday afternoon at the team’s minicamp that might have been his most impressive statement yet.
Jones has one year left on his current contract, and it’s become a habit for players to hold out of training camp in an effort to show their current team how much they’re worth. They want to land a big extension before the season begins, so if they get hurt, they won’t lose out on millions. That way, they’ll already be locked in for the long haul and can rehab without worry of where they’ll go next.
Julio made his intentions clear while speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m not going to hold out for anything,” he told ESPN.com. “My teammates need me. I’m being selfish if I’m not here and doing what I need to do.”
Coming off two consecutive losing seasons, it’s nice to see the Falcons won’t have to worry about the tension of Jones holding out of camp in July. He’s there no matter what, he says, and will be working to make the offense better as soon as the team reports to Flowery Branch.
Jones doesn’t have to be that flexible. The two-time Pro Bowler was well on his way to another Pro Bowl selection in 2013, but a broken foot sidelined him for all but five games of that season. He’s been banged up other times as well and has only played all 16 games in one of his four seasons so far (but he’s played at least 13 games in every season other than 2013).
So it would be understandable if Jones were more concerned with getting paid. He plays a position where any bad throw could result in a catastrophic hit from a safety or cornerback and a season-ending injury. Last year, he was targeted 164 times. That’s a lot of plays where his family will be holding their collective breath.
But after reading Wednesday’s comments, there’s little doubt Jones is invested in bringing this team back from two years of mediocrity, even if the team has yet to further invest in him.
Photo: AP/John Bazemore