“Money Ain’t A Thang”

Julio Jones has become one of the biggest names in the NFL. He was a star under Nick Saban for the Alabama Crimson Tide during his college days. Prior to camp beginning, there was a speculation of a potential hold out because of a contractual issue. We’ve seen a few wide receivers get paid already. The Saints gave Michael Thomas his money and after that, I said to myself: Okay, now the Falcons are going to give Julio his money. Not necessarily. Just yesterday, the Kansas City Chiefs extended Tyreek Hill which made him the highest-paid wide receiver in the league. News reported on Friday that Julio would indeed sit out if the Falcons didn’t offer him a new contract which isn’t good news considering that week one is tomorrow. The hold out is over, the star receiver can finally smile. The Atlanta Falcons have decided to extend number 11 with a three-year deal worth $66 million.

Julio is one of the three best wide receivers in the league now and has been for a few seasons. When I think of a football player who does the little things with such consistency, he always comes to my mind. He’s a man of few words but many yards. Last season, he led the league in receiving yards with 1,677 yards. It’s so rare to see a guy of his size (6’3, 220 pounds) with the speed, strength, ability to leap and body control. He’s excellent when it comes to transitioning his routes to get open. He catches everything around him whether it’s jumping or taking a couple of extra steps to get the ball, I just feel he plays the game the correct way and what I mean by this is he isn’t a flashy guy nor does he celebrate after he makes a play. He always keeps it focused and he’s about catching the ball, making the best play possible to put the Falcons in prime position and scoring touchdowns. He’s simply about his business. Julio also plays smaller than he appears. When you think of quarterbacks and screen plays or throwing it to the slot guy, the smaller receivers often come to mind. Number 11 can play outside, stretch things vertically, play in the slot and he can catch the screen passes. He’s the ultimate nightmare for a secondary. He’s a tough cover. You play off him, he just positions himself to sit in the zone for the catch, you can try to be physical with him, but he’s strong enough to handle it and it doesn’t disrupt his route running. He’s also an extremely smart receiver and I can recall a moment from last season that displayed his intelligence of the game. The Falcons were playing the Cowboys last season in November. Julio was running a deep route down the field and Matt Ryan overthrew him. The ball was very close to being intercepted and he tackles the guy to get the ball out his hands. Most receivers on plays like that when the ball is overthrown normally give up on the play. Not this guy. That was a high IQ play from one of the best.

I’m glad this deal happened. It had too. It really doesn’t matter where he is on the field, Matt knows when to throw it to him and exactly where to put the ball. He also has the faith that his top target will come down with the ball and he always does. He’s consistent, explosive and play strength is one separates him from the others playing his position.