At least one more NFL star signed an extension this week. But this contract is different than all the others.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones signed a three-year, $66 million contract extension that locks him with the team through the 2023 season, with $64 million due upfront.
This will make Jones the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history when the extension kicks in, and sweetest of all, nearly the entire contract will be guaranteed. The 97 percent guaranteed-money figure is the highest amount by far for a non-quarterback, surpassing the deal signed by Lions defensive end Trey Flowers this March (74% guaranteed).
Jones’ case is a stark contrast with other NFL players, most damning of all fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown. Like Brown had in his final season in Pittsburgh, Jones made his case for a new contract over this offseason. Unlike Brown, Jones did so while reporting to training camp and performing his job to the best of his ability, even as he rehabilitated from a foot injury.
More importantly, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s handling of Jones is a contrast with other, similar cases this off-season, including the recently-ended holdout of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the ongoing holdout of Chargers running back Melvin Gordon. While some teams are willing to haggle to save a few million dollars on their best players, even risking the loss of their services for a few games, others such as the Falcons are willing to bet the farm to retain their own stars for as long as they can.