Julio Jones hinted that he could stay on the sidelines for Week 1 if he doesn't reach a new deal with the Atlanta Falcons, but reports indicate that the All Pro wide receiver is expected to play as a finalized deal nears.
Jones has been working on a contract extension that will keep him with the team that traded up to grab him in the 2011 NFL Draft. When he was asked on Thursday about whether he would be on the field amid contract negotiations, Jones would not give a definite answer but seemed to indicate that he's ready to be on the field.
"I don't know," Jones said, via ESPN reporter Vaughn McClure on Twitter. "I mean, like, what I'm trying to do right now is be ready. If I'm gonna play, if I'm not gonna play, I'm trying to be out there regardless. Coming back from injury and things like that. But ultimate thing is just being ready when my number is called."
Jones later answered more definitively at the end of the session with reporters, saying that he is planning to be on the field.
"Julio plans on playing Sunday," he said. "You can go with that. Correct."
So it appears only an unforeseen setback would keep Jones off the field for the team's opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
As NFL.com noted, Jones has been recovering from a foot injury that kept him out of the majority of training camp and the preseason and was limited in practice on Thursday. However, he wasn't listed on the injury report, and it was believed to be a rest day for the receiver.
Julio Jones led the NFL in receiving last season, the second time in his career he's done so. As Al.com noted, Jones has amassed 10,731 yards over the course of his NFL career, the most for any receiver through their first eight seasons in the league. Jones had signed a $71.3 million contract extension in 2015 and remains locked down for two more seasons, but is seeking a new deal.As Al.com noted, Jones had held out last preseason and earned from the team a promise to get a new deal done before this season started.
"Last year, Jones skipped the Falcons' entire offseason program, and it wasn't until the eve of training camp that Atlanta was sure he would be there," the report noted. "Jones reported to training camp on time after Atlanta boosted his 2018 pay by $2.9 million and pledged to get a new deal done this offseason."
While the details are not yet all known, reports indicate that the Atlanta Falcons and Julio Jones are moving toward a new contract extension.