OTAs started this week for the Falcons. There were a few notable exceptions for a variety of reasons. But what does it really mean?
Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett, and Vic Beasley were all notably absent from the start of training camp, or better known as OTAs, organized team activities. All three players are in missing, or skipping, for one reason or the other. These three players are veterans of the team, guys who have been with the Falcons since their Super Bowl run. Some would tell, “you these guys have to be there at the start of training camp to lead by example”. Others would tell, “you these guys don’t need to be at the start of training camp, they’re vets”. Let’s go over each player’s situation to see what may or may not be going on.
1. Julio Jones
Julio Jones is already the greatest wide receiver, maybe even the greatest player ever, for the Falcons franchise. We also know that Julio Jones is injury-prone, so I think we can all agree that the less Julio does, the better. However, Julio is also looking for a new contract, the one promised from the last offseason after the Falcons redid his deal. He wants to get paid, there is no way getting around that. But I think we can all agree Julio deserves his money. Jones turned 30 this year, so if we are being kind, we can assume the Falcons will still get a few good years from Julio going forward. The Falcons need to pay him his money and as soon as possible. An asset, even at his age, will always be valuable for some franchise. Let’s make sure it’s valuable for the Falcons franchise.
There is no need for Julio to be at OTAs. I’m okay with this one. His contract could be the root of his absence, but I also think it has to do with his health situation. Julio can skip all of the offseason workouts and the preseason, and I would be fine with that. As long as number 11 is lined up on the opening Sunday of the regular season, we can all be happy. Take your time, Julio. We’ll wait for you.
2. Vic Beasley
Beasley was somewhat of a surprise. After the Falcons picked up his fifth-year option, I figured Vic would be ready to workout with his coach and biggest believer, Dan Quinn. Quinn, after hiring himself, will have charge of the defense this season, and it was thought that would give the coach more time to work with his pet project/first ever draft pick as a head coach. However, we would have assumed incorrectly. According to Dan Quinn, Beasley is still participating in his own offseason workouts. It sounds like Dan Quinn wanted Beasley with the team, however.
The bottom line for Vic is this: produce and we don’t care where you are or who you train with. If Vic can get more than 10 sacks this season, a lot of Falcons fans will be happy. So, I hope his training is working and paying off. Maybe, and that’s a huge maybe, Vic can rediscover the form that led him to 15.5 sacks. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but I hope Vic is putting in the work. This is his last chance with the Falcons.
3. Grady Jarrett
I saved this best for last, or maybe the worst, depending on how you look at the situation. Grady was seeking a new contract in the range of Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox money. I won’t ever have a problem with a player trying to get his money, but Grady’s request seemed a little excessive. Grady is a great player, but that’s a lot of money for any player. The Falcons agreed with me, and they placed the franchise tag on Grady. That just meant Grady would be paid this season, but the Falcons had a chance to keep the player under their control for the season while trying to come to an agreement for a contract. Grady didn’t have to sign his franchise tag until the summer, but he signed it already. That means he will be playing under the franchise tag for the season if the player and team can’t get a contract hammered out.
The bottom line for Grady is difficult to say. I don’t understand why Grady signed his franchise tag before he had to, but I’m sure he had his reasons. I just hope he’s not upset or aggrieved by the Falcons not offering him what he thought he deserves. I hope Grady isn’t planning on leaving after the season if the Falcons don’t do this all over again next season. I like Grady, and he’s a great player who is a vital part of the defense. So, I understand why Grady would be skipping OTAs, that is voluntary. He has no reason to put himself out there if he doesn’t want to. This situation has the feels of getting ugly down the road. I hope the Falcons pay him so we can avoid all of that.