The NFL season is getting ready to get cranked up with training camps. Along with training camps, there will be talk of contracts and who will or won't report to camp. One name we have heard a lot of Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeVeon Bell. The talented and versatile running back wasn't able to come to an agreement on a contract with the Steelers and he more than likely will not report during training camp. Bell is not alone in wanting a new deal with their team. Julio Jones isn't in the same predicament as Bell with the franchise tag and all, but he definitely is wanting more money. In 2015, Julio signed a five-year, $71.2 million extension that guaranteed him $47 million. At the time of him signing that deal, Jones was ranked the third in the highest-paid wide receiver list. Since then, he has fallen to ninth on the list. He has said that he plans to sit out all training camp even though the Falcons have said they will not be reworking Jones' deal until next offseason. There have been plenty of opinions on Jones' holdout and there are some that believe he is crazy to hold out for a reworked deal. Well, he isn't quite as crazy as he seems.
The NFL is the only league that contracts never really mean what you sign up for. For example, Julio may not ever get to see that $71.2 million he signed up for. The only thing he is guaranteed to see if the $47 million. Lots of times teams sign players and they never see the end of the deal because of the structure of the NFL. Teams could sign a player to a bigtime deal and then cut them with no repercussions outside of the guarantee. That's where you cannot fault Julio for looking towards a new deal. He is 29 now and nearing the end of his deal he currently has. The shelf life of an NFL player is not very long. Julio just so happens to be a star NFL player and his lease on the NFL life will be longer. So in him wanting more money up front, he is just trying to maximize the money he can make. After all, the next hit you take could be the last hit you take in the NFL. Julio wants to make sure he maximizes his value. Besides, he knows he is the best offensive weapon on the team and has sat and watched quarterback Matt Ryan get $100 million guaranteed. That amount of money compared to the $47 million he got guaranteed isn't close and Julio wants to potentially make that closer.
Along with wanting to get more guaranteed money, let's take a look at where Julio is ranked in the wide receiver pay category. Back in 2015 when Jones signed his contract extension with the Falcons, his average salary bumped him up to third in the NFL salary-wise behind now-retired Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Bengals wide receiver AJ Green. Both were considered elite receivers at the time and Julio was mentioned in that vein as well. Fast forward to now and Julio is still getting paid well, but his average salary has fallen from third to ninth in the NFL wide receiver rankings. Names like Sammy Watkins (Kansas City Chiefs), Brandin Cooks (Los Angeles Rams), Devante Adams (Green Bay Packers) and Jarvis Landry(Cleveland Browns) are listed higher than Julio at this time. At the top of the list is Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown at an average salary of $17 million. When one of the best wide receivers in the NFL is not at the top in pay, there is going to be an issue. Julio is better than Watkins, Cooks and Adams and his numbers show it, so why shouldn't he want to be paid more than them?
Plenty will make Julio the bad guy in this situation, but you have to understand that this is a business. The NFL is a cutthroat business and the players unfortunately get caught in that crossfire a lot. So why not try to get more money when you can. The holdout may or may not work, but Julio is willing to bet that it will and if the Falcons go into the season without Julio because of this, expect his leverage to get even better on a reworked deal.