Falcons announce 5-year contract extension for Julio Jones
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons agreed to a $71.25 million, five-year contract extension with Julio Jones on Saturday that compares favorably with recent deals paid to other top wide receivers.
The deal, announced by the team before Saturday night's preseason game at Miami, was expected. Owner Arthur Blank recently said an agreement would come soon, and he has consistently said he wants Jones to play his full career with the Falcons.
Jones learned the deal was done while the Falcons were warming up for the game. Blank came on the field and they shared a hug.
''I didn't have any doubt in my mind we'd get it done - if not this year, next year,'' Jones said. ''I want to be a Falcon the rest of my career, and Mr. Blank let it be known he wanted me here as well.''
The deal, which keeps Jones in Atlanta through the 2020 season, includes guarantees of $47.5 million. His average salary during the contract is $14.25 million, and his motivation won't change, he said.
''I don't have to say I have to turn it on. I'm already on.''
Jones was set to earn about $10 million this year, the last season of a four-year deal.
Two other top NFL receivers, Denver's Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant of Dallas, signed $70 million contracts this year.
''Julio's really everything we love in terms of a player, off the field and on the field,'' Blank said after the game in Miami. ''He will be a major anchor for us going forward.''
Jones set career highs with 104 catches and a franchise-record 1,593 yards receiving last season. It was an important bounce-back season for the former Alabama star following the 2013 surgery to repair the fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He broke the same bone in the foot in 2011.
Jones has looked strong and quick this preseason. He caught four passes from Matt Ryan, including one for a touchdown, on the Falcons' first preseason possession against Tennessee. He sat out the game in Miami.
In his first four seasons, Jones has 278 receptions for 4,330 yards and 26 touchdowns. He earned Pro Bowl selections in 2012 and 2014.
The Falcons' big investment in Jones began with a bold trade with Cleveland to move up in the 2011 draft. In order to make Jones the No. 6 overall pick, the Falcons traded first-round picks in 2011 and 2012, its 2011 second- and fourth-round picks and its 2012 fourth-round selection.
Now he's paired with new coach Dan Quinn, who applauded the extension.
''He really represents all the things I love about football - the attitude, the effort, the style,'' Quinn said. ''He's a really unique player, and I can't wait to coach him for a long time.''
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