ATLANTA -- Coach Mike Smith said Julio Jones will be an Atlanta Falcon for a long, long time. Falcons owner Arthur Blank agreed.
When asked about the team's intentions of signing Jones and fellow receiver Roddy White to extensions, Blank didn't hesitate to back both players.
"We'd love to have them both," Blank said. "Obviously, they are at different points in their careers with us. Roddy's 32, if I'm not mistaken. And Julio's a much younger man (25). We want to see them both have a long career and a 100-percent career with the Atlanta Falcons."
White, who wants to play three or four more years and is entering the final year of his contract, previously expressed a desire to finish his career with the Falcons. He has a base salary of $5 million this coming season and a cap figure of $6.35 million.
White is likely to seek $8 million or more guaranteed in a three-year deal, somewhat similar to the contract Indianapolis receiver Reggie Wayne received at the age of 33 two years ago. Awarding White an extension would help the Falcons lower his cap number for '14.
As for Jones, the Falcons picked up his fifth-year option for 2015 which will pay him $10.716 million (same as cap hit). That doesn't preclude them from signing him to a long-term deal. With Jones coming off season-ending foot surgery and not expected to take the field again until training camp, it's fair to wonder if the team will attempt to get the long-term deal resolved sooner rather than wait to see if he has a dynamic '14 season and, thus, command more money. Jones' cap hit is $5,149,375 this coming season.
Right now, White averages $8.54 million per year and Jones, $4.045 million.
"We love Roddy, and Julio as well," Blank said, "so we'll continue to work with them and their agents closely."
When healthy, Jones and White compose arguably the most dangerous receiver tandem in the league. During the 2012 season, they had a combined 171 catches for 2,549 yards and 17 touchdowns as the Falcons went 13-3 and finished one step away from the Super Bowl.