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QB Ryan thrilled with Falcons’ deal with WR Jones

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — It was hard to tell who was the happiest, Julio Jones or his quarterback Matt Ryan, after he agreed to a contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons.

Jones reached a five-year, $71.25 million contract with the Falcons on Saturday.

“Obviously, I’m probably the happiest person in the organization to have him back,” Ryan said. “He’s a premier player, one of the best in the league.

“He’s an even better teammate. He’s the best and I’m just excited that he’s going to be here for a long time.”

Jones’ agent, Jimmy Sexton, gave him a warning before the Falcons played Miami on Saturday that a deal was imminent.

Sexton told Jones to take his cell phone on the field during warmups, because the parties were very close to a deal.

“I figured out and knew for sure that it was done was when (Falcons owner) Mr. (Arthur) Blank got here,” Jones said. “He came on the field and gave me a big hug. He was like, ‘Congratulations.’ He said he was very proud of the way I handled this … by keeping the team first.”

What Blank seemed to admire most was how Jones didn’t bicker in public during negotiations.

“We couldn’t be more enthused about it than we are,” Blank said. “He’s been a great player for us. He represents everything that we love in terms of a player on the field and off the field.”

Blank took note of other wide receivers around the league, who went public with their contract demands.

“He came to work and worked hard,” Blank said. “It was never an issue. There was never a question. He knew that we’d eventually be able to pull something together that would be acceptable to us and to him. We were able to do that.

“It’s a credit to him personally. It’s a credit to our organization, guys like (director of football operations) Nick Polk, (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) and others who have worked on this deal.”

Blank believes securing Jones is directly linked to the team’s future.

“From Atlanta’s standpoint, he’s a major anchor for us in our offense going forward,” Blank said.

Head coach Dan Quinn was also elated with the news.

“We love the competitor,” Quinn said. “The style, the effort, he really represents all of the things that that I love about football. … He’s a really unique player. I can’t wait to coach him for a long time.”

Jones, who has reached two Pro Bowls since the Falcons selected him sixth overall in the 2011 draft, said he drew some inner strength from his mother, Queen Marvin.

“It wasn’t difficult at all for me,” Jones said. “It’s just my makeup, the way I was raised, I guess. I just left it in God’s hands. I talked to my mom every day about it. She was like, ‘Just pray about it. Just show up to work every day. Let God take care of it.’

“And that’s what I did.”

Jones knew the Falcons could have elected to let him play at a little more than $10 million in 2015 and that the team could have placed the franchise label on him for two seasons.

“I didn’t have any doubts in my mind that we were going to get it done,” Jones said. “If it wasn’t this year, it would have been next year. We were going to get a deal done.

“Like I said, I wanted to be a Falcon for the rest of my career. Mr. Blank let it be known that he wanted me here as well.

“I just really appreciate the opportunity that the Atlanta Falcons have given me the chance to be here for the next five years. There is nothing that I need to go buy or anything else. I just want to go play football and win games.”

–The Falcons, who must to cut down to 75 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday, released 13 players and placed one on the physically unable to perform list on Sunday.

The Falcons waived linebacker Boris Anyama, wide receiver Marquez Clark, running back Michael Ford, wide receiver John Harris, defensive tackle Warren Herring, nose tackle Derrick Hopkins, offensive tackle Matt Huffer, cornerback Michael Lee, guard Eric Lefeld, cornerback Jonathon Mincy, defensive end Sam Meredith and center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke.

Atlanta also placed tackle Lamar Holmes on the physically unable to perform list and released veteran tight end Mickey Shuler.

The moves leave the Falcons with 76 players on the roster.

–LT Jake Long did not practice because of back strain on Monday. Tyler Polumbus took his place in the lineup. Coach Dan Quinn said that the team must monitor the seriousness of Matthews’ injury.

–SS William Moore, who had been out with a calf injury, returned to practice on Monday. Moore did not play in the past two exhibition games. He could see some action when the Falcons host the Baltimore Ravens at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Dome. Kemal Ishmael has started the last two games in Moore’s strong safety spot.

–RB Antone Smith (hamstring) participated in portions of practice for the first time since suffering his injury in the exhibition season opener against Tennessee on Aug. 14.

–LB Justin Durant (foot) did not practice on Monday.

–LB Brooks Reed (groin) did not practice on Monday.

–WR Devin Hester (toe) did not practice on Monday.

–TE Tony Moeaki, who left the Miami game with an ankle injury, did not practice.

–G Guard Peter Konz, who missed most of last season to knee surgery, will undergo arthroscopic surgery that will cost him another two or three weeks.

–RB Devonta Freeman is close to returning from a hamstring injury and took part in practice. Quinn said he looked good catching the ball and running the ball on limited basis.


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