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Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank looking to lock up Julio Jones long-term

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank knows that he’s got a special talent in wide receiver Julio Jones. The Falcons traded five picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up to No. 6 in the 2011 NFL Draft to make Jones their future No. 1 wide receiver, and in four seasons in the NFL, Jones has done nothing to disappoint.

As he enters the final year of his rookie contract, Jones has put up 4,330 yards receiving in his four-year NFL career and 26 touchdowns, and he’s done that despite missing 11 games with an injury in 2013. Last year, he had the best year of his career, racking up 1,593 yards on 104 catches while making his second Pro Bowl. Now, the Falcons are looking to reward the former Alabama star with a deal to make him a Falcons “lifer.”

Blank told Vaughn McClure of ESPN the following on Jones’ next contract:

“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.”

With Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas having set the market for wide receivers with matching five-year, $70 million deals this offseason, Jones, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery are all in the market for new deals, among others, and Jones figures to be the guy who could potentially exceed the $14 million average annual value number provided he stays healthy and has another similarly productive year in Atlanta.

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