Now that the Dallas Cowboys and star receiver Dez Bryant have reached a five-year deal reportedly worth $70 million -- with $45 million guaranteed -- maybe the Atlanta Falcons have a better sense of Julio Jones' price tag in a long-term extension.
As we reported earlier this week, the Falcons and Jones' camp have yet to start negotiations on an extension as Jones enters the final year of his contract. There is a general sense around the team that a deal could get done by the start of training camp (July 31) despite the lack of progress at this point.
Jones' situation is, of course, different than Bryant's. The Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Bryant, and Wednesday marked the deadline for the two sides to reach a long-term deal. The Falcons and Jones don't fall under those guidelines right now but could reach such a scenario if no long-term agreement is made before next offseason.
Jones is scheduled to make $10.176 million this year. While every talented receiver would want to join the likes of Detroit's Calvin Johnson, who leads all receiver at $16.2 million per year, the reality is Jones likely won't become the league's highest-paid receiver right now.
Former NFL defensive back Ryan Clark, now an analyst for ESPN, said this about Jones' contract situation following Bryant's deal:
"Players are all worth as much as they'll give them, but I think Julio deserves to be in the Dez range. Definitely more than [Mike] Wallace. If more than Dez, not much more."
Wallace makes $12 million per year with the Minnesota Vikings, by the way.
Bryant's contract seemed to spark (almost immediately) yet another deal for a franchised receiver as Denver's Demaryius Thomas also got a five-year, $70 million deal with a little less guaranteed money.
Just looking strictly at last year's numbers, Jones topped all receivers with 31 catches of 20-plus yards, with Thomas (25) right behind. Bryant topped all receivers with 16 touchdown catches. Thomas finished with 12, and Jones had six.
Thomas had the most receiving yards among the three with 1,619, though Jones set a franchise-record with 1,593 receiving yards while missing one game.
Thomas was targeted more than any other receiver with 111 receptions on 184 targets. Jones had a career-high 104 catches on 164 targets, and Bryant had 88 catches on 138 targets.
Jones vowed not to hold out for a new contract, so we'll see how his scenario unfolds. He is leaving everything in the hands of agent Jimmy Sexton, the same guy who negotiated a six-year, $114.375 million deal for Miami's Ndamukong Suh that included $59.955 million guaranteed.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said he has no lingering concerns at all about the fractured foot Jones suffered in 2013, limiting him to five games.