Julio Jones has signed a multi-year contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons, the team announced on Saturday. Jones was entering the final year of a rookie contract and was set to play on the fifth-year option Atlanta had exercised following the 2014 season, but he'll now sign a five-year extension and will play through his prime with the Falcons.
Jones' deal will pay him $71.25 million over five years, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. It also includes $47 million in guaranteed money, according to the report.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank was optimistic about a getting a new deal done before the season started, calling Jones "a lifer" with the club. That kind of statement isn't surprising, considering the receiver lived up to every expectation the Falcons had when they moved up to get him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
It was only a matter of time before Jones got paid, especially after star receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas were given extensions prior to training camp. Both Bryant and Thomas were given the franchise tag, and both received massive five-year extensions worth $70 million about an hour before the deadline.
Jones' deal comes in just slightly above the ones Bryant and Thomas signed, according to the reported numbers. Below, we've got a table with the big contracts signed lately and how they rank with the highest-paid wide receivers:
After a Pro Bowl season in 2012 in which he caught 79 passes for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns, Jones had injury issues that limited him to just five games in 2013. He also missed a game last season, but he still put up his best effort yet, catching 104 passes for 1,593 yards and six touchdowns.
Jones is considered one of the top receivers in the league, and with 278 catches for 4,330 yards and 26 touchdowns in 49 career games, it's easy to see why. He's 26 years old and should have no trouble earning the big money coming his way with this latest contract.