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Falcons owner Arthur Blank and his large checkbook envisioned Julio Jones spending his entire career in Atlanta. Unfortunately for Blank, Jones felt disrespected by a 2019 contract extension and sought a way out after 10 seasons in Atlanta. Not wanting to burden rookie head coach Arthur Smith with a disgruntled bird, Blank signed off on a deal that sent the Falcon receiver to Tennessee.
— theScore (@theScore) September 2, 2021
Speaking with Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, Blank explained why things went south: “We got a contract done. We felt it was very generous. It made him the top paid receiver in NFL history. But for whatever reason, he felt it wasn’t sufficient respect. I don’t know why he’d feel that way, but he did feel that way.”
Blank went on to insinuate that Jones’ unhappiness with his contract trickled down to the field:
“He just wasn’t … Look, he gave us 10 great years. He’s going to be a Hall of Fame player. He was a good teammate for all that period of time. (But) his ability or willingness to practice the way he did early in his career was different. There were some people who were in the building who had an effect on him. He wanted out, and the last thing coach Smith wants is a player who doesn’t want to be here.”
Ultimately, the most well-known and talented receiver in Falcons history was shipped to the Titans in early June. Along with Jones, Atlanta sent a 2023 sixth-round pick to Tennessee for a second-round pick in next April’s draft and a fourth-rounder in 2023.
Jones is slated to earn $15.3 million in Tennessee this season.