When the Falcons and Broncos kick off preseason with the Hall of Fame game on Thursday, they’ll be doing so without Julio Jones. In fact, the star receiver told reporters on Tuesday that he doesn’t plan on playing this exhibition season at all. 

“I’m not playing in the preseason,” Jones declared from Falcons training camp. “I’m a veteran. I’ve been doing this, so I don’t need preseason to get ready.”

Jones emphasized that as along as he’s able to get one-on-one time with quarterback Matt Ryan, he’ll be perfectly fine for when Atlanta visits the Vikings in Week 1. 

“I get reps with Matt everyday. We go inside, we throw, we do our thing — what we need to do,” he said of his time with Ryan.  

“It’s a mentality thing. As long as I get my reps in practice — I practice the way I play. Once I get my reps in and things like that, I’ll be ready to go.”

On top of simply not needing to play in the preseason due to his immense talent and experience in the league, it’s also a no-brainer for Jones to sit out of these inconsequential games as he and the Falcons continue to discuss a contract extension. 

By playing in the preseason, Jones, 30, opens himself up to unnecessary injury risk and could derail what has the potential to be a record-setting contract extension at the position. 

Despite the lack of a new deal, the six-time Pro Bowl receiver has continued to hit the practice field, unlike fellow stars across the league like Saints pass catcher Michael Thomas, who is currently in a hold out.  

“No, we’re not in the same boat,” Jones said, comparing his situation with Atlanta to Thomas’ in New Orleans. “They’ve got their own thing going on. I’ve got my own thing going on.”

Jones did say that “there’s nothing at this point for me to tell” as it relates to his contract. He did put to rest the thought that his camp could be waiting out Thomas and possibly even Dallas’ Amari Cooper to surpass their upcoming extensions. 

“I’m not waiting on Michael Thomas, I’m not waiting on Amari Cooper It’s just us going back and forth negotiating, but that’s it.” 

Jones currently has a base salary of $9.6 million for the 2019 season and a cap hit of just under $13.5. In 2020, that base number jumps up to $11.426 million before being eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2021. 

After five straight seasons of going over 1,000 yards, including a league leading 1,677 receiving yard campaign in 2019, Jones will likely see a pay bump that could see him become the highest paid pass catcher in the league today.