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Blank wants WR Jones to be ‘lifer for Falcons’

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Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said contract talks with Julio Jones are progressing and he wants to make the Pro Bowl wide receiver a “lifer for the Falcons.”

Jones has one year left on his rookie contract and will earn $10.176 million this season.

“We’re in the middle of those discussions,” Blank said Sunday. “We expect Julio to be a lifer for the Falcons. We’re moving forward and have every reason to be positive and be enthusiastic about it.”

Jones set a franchise record with 1,593 receiving yards last season on a career-high 104 receptions.

Jones’ agent, Jimmy Sexton, began contract talks with the Falcons before the start of training camp.

The recent wide receiver signings of Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant and Denver Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas to five-year, $70 million contracts give Sexton a specific starting point.

“I think whatever the market is in the league, we look at Julio as certainly being in that class,” Blank said. “The specifics, his length of contract and where he is in his contract terms is different than those players (Bryant and Thomas). All of that needs to be built into the new deal. But we view (Jones) as one of the top receivers in the NFL, and I think most people do as well.”

Jones missed 11 games in 2013 after fracturing his right foot, but Blank does not have any concerns about the injury.

“I think we’ve gotten the best medical advice, really, in the world,” Blank said. “And he followed their program last year to a T. This year, he’s been able to do more during the offseason, and I think that reflects in the way he looks at camp and the way he’s working.”


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