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Talks focus on Jones as Falcon for life

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank expects wide receiver Julio Jones, who is up for a contract extension, to be a lifetime Falcon.

Jones wants the same thing.

“We’re on the same page,” Jones said. “I want to be a Falcon for life. I guess he made it clear yesterday that they’re obviously working toward that. All I can control is what I do out here on this field and stay consistent.”

Blank updated the process of working out the deal.

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

Blank said there isn’t a timeline for the deal being completed.

“We’re moving as quickly as we can,” Blank said. “The player has been fabulous. He came into camp in great shape. He’s working all-out. There is no hesitation or question on his part. We are working with a very professional agent who actually understands the business. He actually handled the last two wide receivers contracts, which helps a good bit.”

With the offseason signings of Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Dallas’ Dez Bryant to five-year, $70 million contracts, the market has been set for Jones’ deal. He’s expected to land a deal that will average $15.25 million, according to Joel Corry, a former agent and sports business analyst for CBS Sports.

“I think whatever the market is,” Blank said. “We look at Julio as certainly being in that class. The specifics, his length of contract and where he is in his contract terms is different than those players were.

“All of that needs to be built into the new deal that is done. We view him as one of the top receivers in the NFL and we think that most people do as well.”

Blank has not had a problem re-signing key players even dating back to the Michael Vick era.

“It’s a business transaction, a business deal that we have to get through,” Blank said. “We are dealing in good faith. We expect him to be here for his entire career. I think the agent does as well and the player does as well.”

The Falcons are not concerned with Jones’ injury history with his right foot.

“We’ve gotten the best medical advice, really in the world,” Blank said. “He’s followed their program last year to a tee. This year, he’s been able to do more in the offseason and it reflects in how he looks at camp.”

While the rushing attack is under construction, new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan knows he has the potential for a strong passing attack.

“Just physically, I’ve always loved Julio coming out of college and I’ve always known how talented he is,” Shanahan said. “Just to be around the guy who is as explosive as he is and can still break down, cut and attack the football. His toughness. The guy doesn’t take plays off. He’s physically tough and mentally tough. He’s very fun to coach. He makes you a better coach.”

–The Falcons continue to move players around along the offensive line.

Chris Chester, who was signed this offseason after being released by Washington, worked as the first-team right guard, in place of Jon Asamoah, on Monday.

“Chester, we’ve moved him into that role some,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “(James) Stone some at the (left) guard. He’s looked good. (Joe) Hawley and (Mike) Person back and forth at the center. But Chris is one that has really jumped out to us in terms of his quickness and power.”

Quinn would not say that Asamoah has fallen behind in the competition.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say fallen behind,” Quinn said. “I think the battle is still wide open for him. Jon is a terrific competitor. He had it for awhile. Chester is up there for awhile. We’ve also moved guys from left guard to right guard who can play inside as well. He’s someone that we’re totally counting on as well, Jon.”

Asamoah, 27, was signed to a five-year, $22.5 million contract during free agency in 2014.

Chester, 32, was signed to a one-year, $2.8 million contract on May 29.

Asamoah played 966 snaps and gave up two sacks, three hits and 21 hurries last season. He was the 23rd-rated guard of the group who played 50 percent or more of their team’s offensive snaps, according to profootballfocus.com.

Chester has started 111 of 137 games for the Ravens and Redskins. Chester was snapped up after being released by Washington.


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