Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones has yet to join the team for offseason workouts, according to multiple sources, and the deletion of Falcons photos from his Instagram page fueled speculation regarding unrest between Jones and the team.
Jones was not with his teammates when the Falcons officially began offseason workouts last week but was expected back this week. However, he wasn’t present when the players returned to the field Monday.
The team said the deletion of the Falcons photos had to do with Jones wanting a “fresh start” on social media and nothing more.
One source told ESPN it was to set an example for Alabama players. Jones, a star receiver at Alabama from 2008-10, had spent the day with Crimson Tide players.
There have been whispers about a possible contract situation regarding Jones, but nothing has gone public from Jones’ camp or from the team.
The five-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $71.25 million extension ($47 million guaranteed) in August 2015 and still has three years and $34.43 million left on the deal. His average from the deal — $14.25 million — falls below the averages for Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown ($17 million per year), Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans ($16.5 million), Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins ($16.2 million), Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins ($16 million) and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green ($15 million).
The Falcons have prioritized signing quarterback Matt Ryan to an extension this offseason, with Ryan having one year and $19.25 million left on his deal. General manager Thomas Dimitroff also talked about nose tackle Grady Jarrett, left tackle Jake Matthews and free safety Ricardo Allen possibly being extended. The immediate focus is preparing for Thursday’s NFL draft.
The Falcons have said it is important to have Jones healthy this offseason to put in the practice time with Ryan. Jones is working out with former NFL receiver Terrell Owens.
Jones’ absence from the team will become more of a concern if he’s not around for mandatory minicamp, June 12-14.