ATLANTA—It's your move, Julio.
According to a report from The Athletic's Jeff Schultz, the Atlanta Falcons have neither budgeted for a contract extension nor short-term salary bump with Julio Jones, putting the onus on the All-Pro receiver to follow through on his camp's apparent threat of missing training camp—in the absence of a substantial raise.
Jones has been sending mixed signals about his training-camp plans throughout the offseason.
During the spring, Jones (four-year average: 103 catches, 1,579 yards, 6 TDs) skipped out on Organized Team Activities workouts and mandatory minicamp practices.
Recently, though, Jones happily showed up for Matt Ryan's 'Camp Brotherhood' workouts with his pass-catching teammates. However, Julio wasn't wearing any Falcons gear (or any shirt, for that matter) when the famous photo was posted on Calvin Ridley's Snapchat account.
Which brings us to this: It's possible the people of Atlanta might have read too much into Jones' attendance at the Ryan camp. He's ostensibly holding out from the Falcons franchise (in search of more money)—not his teammates.
By comparison, attending Ryan's camp would likely rate one step above going on a weekend excursion to Las Vegas with the same Falcons teammates—with the agenda of conducting some passing drills around the entertainment functions of golf and partying.
In other words, it's more of a bonding experience than anything.
From the Falcons' perspective, in terms of Schultz's scoop, the front office clearly wanted to get ahead of this story before training camp launches on July 27.
As such, they stand to benefit from a week of setting precedent in media circles. Charting the history of the current administration (owner Arthur Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff), Falcons veterans with two-plus years remaining on existing deals seldom—if ever—have their contracts renegotiated.
For example, back in May, Ryan became the NFL's highest-paid player, to the tune of five years and $150 million ... with a league-record commitment of $100 million in guaranteed money.
However, this landmark renegotiation was spurred on by the specter of Ryan becoming an unrestricted free agent next March.
By comparison, Jones' case has notable differences.
Back in May, 11Alive Sports reporter Alex Glaze landed an exclusive discussion with Mr. Blank, who declared that Jones would remain with the Falcons 'forever.'
In that respect, nothing has changed to debunk Blank's statement; but things are certainly murkier between the two parties. For now.
Jones, who signed a five year, $71.26 million extension in 2015, has a base salary of $10.5 million for this season (source: Spotrac.com).
It's also worth noting: If Julio hypothetically waited one more season to demand a new deal—likely the Falcons' preferred timetable—he would then be entering his age-30 campaign.
And in the NFL, turning '30' can be the real-world equivalent of turning 60. As such, Jones' camp likely wants the next round of contractual talks concluded while Julio's still in his 20s.
The Steelers' Antonio Brown currently commands the highest salary among the wide receivers—at approximately $17 million per year.
By skipping the mandatory minicamp in June, Jones incurred automatic fines of $84,230 (cumulative three-day total).
For last year's training camp, NFL players with unexcused absences (read: holdouts) were fined as much as $40,000 per day.