Julio Jones has made it clear he is not going to be in an Atlanta Falcons uniform anymore, even though he is still on the roster. As the Falcons began Phase Three of minicamp, Smith was blitzed with questions regarding his star wide receiver and handled the offseason drama extremely well.
Smith didn’t even care that Jones was wearing a Dallas Cowboys shirt, even though Jones has said he’s not going to the Cowboys. For now, Jones remains employed by the Falcons until a trade is official.
“They should speak for themselves, and so I’m not going to comment — it doesn’t change anything for us,” Smith said, via Zach Klein of WSB. “We understand what our plan is moving forward. We have multiple private conversations with our players and those are conversations that are going to remain private on my end.”
The Falcons and Jones won’t have a resolution this month, as any team that acquires Jones will have an easier time absorbing his salary later. Jones has a $23.3 million cap hit if he’s traded before June 1, but that can be spread across multiple years, with $7.8 million in 2021 and $15.5 million in 2022. If the Falcons want high draft compensation for Jones, it will be easier to get that after the June 1 deadline.
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Jones has the highest average receiving yards per game in NFL history at 95.5 and had averaged over 100 receiving yards per game in five different seasons, the most in league history (no other receiver has more than three). The 32-year-old Jones had 51 catches for 711 yards and three touchdowns in nine games last season, as his average receiving yards per game of 85.7 was sixth in the league amongst wide receivers. Jones has 12,896 career receiving yards though 135 games, the most for a player in NFL history.
For the time being, Jones remains in a Falcons uniform. It’s unlikely he’ll show up to mandatory minicamp on June 8, but Smith will welcome him if he is still on the roster.
“Every player here will be treated with dignity,” Smith said. “We’ll always coach the guys who show up.”