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Falcons promise Julio Jones to talk deal after season

Julio Jones sat out offseason workouts in hopes of getting a new contract. The Atlanta Falcons will not acquiesce -- at least for now.

The Falcons are not planning to renegotiate the All-Pro receiver's contract with three years left on the deal, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday, according to a source informed of the team's thinking.

However, the Falcons aren't completely ignoring Jones' desire for a new contract. The team promised him in June they would work on a new deal after the 2018 season, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Jeff Schultz of The Athletic first reported the team's decision to not negotiate a new contract this season.

Jones enters the third year of a five-year, $71.25 million contract extension signed in 2015, which lasts through the 2020 season. With Jones under contract through 2020 -- and the team able to wield the franchise tag for two subsequent years -- the Falcons are prioritizing extensions for players entering the final year of their contracts: DT Grady Jarrett, OT Jake Matthews and safety Ricardo Allen, per Rapoport.

It always seemed a long shot for Jones to get a new deal in 2018. NFL teams are generally reticent even to consider a new deal with two years left on a contract. Giving Jones a new contract -- even if he's deserving -- would set a new precedent. NFL teams despise setting precedents.

With the news that the team won't give Jones a pay raise, the question is whether the wideout will attend training camp when Falcons veterans report July 26. Rapoport notes that communication between Jones and the team has remained strong, but the Falcons still haven't been informed about whether he will attend camp.

Jones showing up for Matt Ryan's passing camp is a good sign the wideout is still invested in a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Comments from the receiver earlier this offseason -- notably saying he'd be a Falcon for life -- also indicate he wouldn't hold out.

Things could change, however, if Jones pulls his only leverage play: withholding services.

The man voted the No. 4 overall NFL player by his peers in NFL Network's Top 100 players of 2018 is on a contract that averages $14.25 million per season, eighth highest among receivers. It's not surprising that a player of Jones' caliber would feel underpaid. He is. But with the Falcons holding nearly all the cards, there is little he can do about it with three years left to play before the game of tag even begins.

If Jones decides he needs to be paid now, skipping camp, preseason and eventually regular season games is his only method to pressure Atlanta. We'll know in a week whether the superstar wideout is willing to employ that little-used strategy.

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