The start of the Atlanta Falcons’ offseason training activities on Monday brought some controversy with the absence of five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones. On Tuesday, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn addressed the absence of the team’s top playmaker.
Quinn opened his post-practice media session with a statement about Jones not being at OTAs. Following the statement, Quinn answered several questions about Jones’ status.
“I know the topic of Mr. Julio Jones is on a number of peoples’ minds, so I want to let you know Julio and I, we speak regularly,” Quinn said. “I was fully aware that he wasn’t going to be here for the start of the offseason program, and I was also aware that he wasn’t going to be here this past Monday. He’s in great shape. He’s spending some time this offseason working on some of the things he’s not even been able to over the last offseason due to some injuries.
“We talk regularly for sure, but I wanted to make sure that I communicated with you guys on that front. I do expect him to be here certainly either at the mini camp or at the end of the offseason program. That’s where I’m at.”
Quinn said he’s not sure when Jones will return, instead saying the coaches knew Jones was not going to be at the first week of OTAs. Quinn added he anticipated Jones will join the team by the mandatory camp on June 12 at the latest.
Quinn was also asked if Jones’ absence had anything to do with his reported unhappiness with his contract. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Jones “wants some sort or correction to his contract,” which Rapoport said the Falcons are willing to consider. Jones will make $10.5 million in the 2018 season.
While Quinn didn’t confirm Jones’ contract status was the reason he was not at OTAs, the head coach explained the two have talked about it.
“I think this time of year and as business grows around the NFL, I think that’s pretty common for a lot of players to discuss that (their contract) and wonder where that’s at,” Quinn said. “That’s something he and I discussed together. Unless you guys have spoke to Julio individually or specifically, I think anything past that would be a lot of speculation.”
Falcons owner Arthur Blank told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jeff Schultz, “As I said about Matt Ryan, how I wanted him to be our quarterback for his entire career, Julio Jones will be our receiver for his entire career. This is just a normal kind of discussion that takes place. We’ll deal with it.”