The Atlanta Falcons will open training camp without their best player.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Julio Jones does not plan to report to camp on Thursday, per sources informed of the decision. The wideout is comfortable sitting out all of camp, Rapoport added.
Jones skipped all offseason team workouts -- he did attend Matt Ryan's passing camp earlier this month -- in hopes of getting a new contract.
With three seasons left on Jones' current deal, the Falcons have balked at acquiescing to the All-Pro receiver. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero previously reported Atlanta brass promised Jones they'd work on a contract re-do after the 2018 season.
Apparently, that's not an acceptable compromise for Jones.
"I have full faith in TD [general manager Thomas Dimitroff] and DQ [coach Dan Quinn] to handle this in the best manner that is feasible for us," Blank said. "We love Julio, and I have said our wishes are that he be a Falcon for life. As always, I am available to our staff as needed and at appropriate times."
Jones enters the third year of a five-year, $71.25 million contract extension signed in 2015, which lasts through the 2020 season. He has three years and $34.4 million left on the deal. Jones' current contract averages $14.25 million per season over the life of the deal. The average places him ninth among all receivers.
The 29-year-old wideout believes he's worth more and willing to skip time to prove his point. The Falcons have the option to fine Jones up to $40,000 for each day missed during training camp, per the collective bargaining agreement.
While it always felt like a longshot that the Falcons would agree to re-do Jones' contract with three years left -- NFL teams hate setting new precedents -- the wideout is utilizing the only leverage he owns at the moment: withholding his services.
Jones skipping training camp indicates he's willing to play the last card left in his hand to try to force the Falcons to blink. How long the holdout last will depend on how the organization responds. If Jones is willing to skip regular season games to prove his point, things could get ugly in Atlanta.
The Falcons open with a difficult slate -- at Philadelphia, vs. Carolina, vs. New Orleans. If Dan Quinn's team stumbled out of the gate while Jones is sitting at home, it could kill the season for a potential Super Bowl team. If that nightmare situation unfolds, would that be the point the team submits to Jones' demands, ala Emmitt Smith in 1993?
At this point, Jones seems resolute in getting a pay raise this season, not next year.