Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and other stars who are set to hold out of training camp

Jay Asser 22:30 24/07/2018
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Julio Jones is the ninth-highest paid wide receiver in the NFL.

As training camps open throughout the NFL this week, certain stars will be noticeably absent as they continue contract negotiations in the hopes of securing a more favourable deal.

One of those players will be Julio Jones, with the Atlanta Falcons wide receiver set to hold out from the team’s training camp when it opens on Thursday, according to ESPN.

Jones signed a five-year, $71 million contract in 2015, which at the time made him the second-highest paid wide receiver in the league on average, with his $14.25m annual figure trailing only Calvin Johnson’s $16.2m.

Since then, however, eight receivers have moved ahead of Jones on the average rankings, with Antonio Brown’s $17m leading the way. While Brown is deserving of his spot at the top, players like Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry and Davante Adams don’t have nearly the production Jones has, as the Falcons star has eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past four seasons – tied for the longest streak in NFL history with Marvin Harrison (1999-2002).

With Jones reportedly prepared to sit out all of camp and the Falcons said to be unwilling to rework his deal, the standstill could go on until the regular season.

Here’s a look at other stars across the league who are also likely to hold out.

Aaron Donald

The Los Angeles Rams are about to open training camp and yet the team’s best player is still without a long-term deal.

Donald didn’t show up to training camp or the preseason last year, and it didn’t end up mattering as he picked up Defensive Player of the Year honours.

Still, the Rams should want this resolved before the season starts as Donald is on the final year of his rookie deal, earning $6.89m.

Los Angeles haven’t been shy about splashing the cash this offseason, including handing newcomer Brandin Cooks a five-year extension worth $81 million before the wide receiver has even played a snap for the team.

It’s somewhat perplexing why they haven’t prioritised taking care of Donald first.

Donald

Khalil Mack

Like Donald, the Oakland Raiders linebacker is one of the most valuable non-quarterbacks in the entire league. And like the Rams defensive end, Mack is heading into the fifth-year option of rookie contract, set to pay him $13.8m.

The 2016 Defensive Player of the Year hasn’t shown up for mandatory minicamp and it looks like he’ll skip at least the start of training camp when the Raiders open up on Thursday.

After Oakland took care of franchise quarterback Derek Carr with a five-year, $125m extension, and offensive guard Gabe Jackson with a five-year, $56m extension last summer, Mack is right to expect similar treatment.

Denver Broncos star Von Miller will be the range Mack targets, with the league’s highest-paid linebacker earning $19m on average.

Earl Thomas

Few non-pass rushers in the league have the ability to completely change a defence’s complexion like Thomas, who wants to be paid in accordance with that.

When he signed a four-year, $40m extension in 2014, it made him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Now, four safeties earn more than him on average, with Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs leading the way at $13m.

Still on the right side of 30, Thomas remains in his prime and could be even more important to Seattle’s defence going forward after the team parted ways with Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Cliff Avril this offseason.

If Thomas can’t rework his deal, he’s been vocal about wanting to be traded away instead.

Le’Veon Bell

Unlike the players above him on this list, the Pittsburgh Steelers running back can’t sign a long-term deal until 2019, which means his holdout will have little to do with getting paid – at least directly.

Bell’s reasoning for holding out is tied to his health, with there being no incentive for him to put more wear and tear on his body by going through the preseason.

It’s possible he could even miss some regular season games to preserve himself for next offseason when he’ll hit free agency.

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