The two best players on the Falcons’ roster are the guy who throws the ball (Matt Ryan) and the guy who usually catches the ball (Julio Jones). So anybody grasping for reasons for the team’s failures who suggests the Falcons would be better off without Jones avoids one simple fact: He might be the only guy on the roster that scares the opponent.
The Falcons have signed Jones to a five-year extension, reportedly worth $71.25 million ($47 million guaranteed), according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
The deal was not a surprise. Nobody in the Falcons’ hierarchy — owner Arthur Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, coach Dan Quinn — was going to let Jones get away in free agency after this season. If the deal wasn’t done, the team would’ve slapped the franchise tag on Jones. Jones’ deal was in line with contract extensions given to two other receivers, Dallas’s Dez Bryant and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (five years, $70 million). Both are good but neither is at Jones’ level.
There has been this debate about whether the Falcons, who have so many needs, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines, should be committing so many assets to a wide receiver. It’s an understandable concern. But a team also needs players who can win games, and Jones and Ryan are the only two players on the team who can do that.
After Quinn was hired as head coach in February, I asked him if his vision of the team included Jones. There had been (baseless) speculation the team could move Jones for assets before the draft.
His response: “Absolutely — I can’t wait (to meet him). Just a chance to go through the process with him. … We love great players. We’re trying to celebrate all the good guys. We’re trying to collect more great players, not the other way around.”
Makes perfect sense.
SO I WENT TO a baseball game and a Julio Jones’s signing broke out. But here’s a link to my column on Jonny Gomes, who has provided Braves’ fans with some needed comic relief.
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