The 2012 Falcons have been better than advertised - in part due to the breakout performance from WR Julio Jones. The 2nd year, 23 yr old 1st round draft pick from 2011 is already out-performing his paycheck heading deep into the postseason, drawing comparisons to past greats, and putting himself well into the class of the current elite receivers.
Spotrac takes a look statistically and value-wise how Julio stacks up to comparable receivers who signed major sophomore contract extensions and predicts his next big payday.
Julio will be 24 on February 3rd, so expecting this deal to come in about a year, our variable receivers are in play. To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of the contract information listed above.
Definition: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.
Now let's analyze these players statistically over their careers by showing Games/Season, Receptions/Season, Yards/Season, Yards/Game, and TD/Season. We'll also include statistics for the two years prior to that player signing his contract, to reflect a "prime" state he may have been in.
Brandon Marshall (CHI)
Last 2 Seasons
Desean Jackson (PHI)
Andre Johnson (HOU)
Calvin Johnson (DET)
Julio Jones (ATL)
What we find here is that statistically Julio is falling somewhere in between these four exceptional receivers. From a reception standpoint he's comparable to Marshall and Jackson right now, but is much more productive at getting into the endzone. On the contrary Johnson & Johnson produce more yards per year/career, but are right on par with Julio's ability to score.
We'll consider this a wash as far as moving the scale, as it's clear this is the class of receiver that Jones belongs in.
Length of the Contract
At age 23, it's not likely Jones will hear extension talk until mid-late 2013 - although his play in 2012 certainly warrants it. Statistically he's not standing out of a crowd in any one column - but he's proving he can get down the field, rack up receptions, and get in the endzone. All the major tools of a maximum contract. We'll go along with our initial 6 year estimate.
A major factor in how this contract rolls out will include Atlanta's future plans for partner-in-crime Roddy White, who will see his big contract expire after 2014. It's fair to say the Falcons will let an aging White walk at that point, giving Jones leverage to make this extension even bigger. But in terms of team salary cap - and a winning team - should Jones need to take a hometown discount to keep the roster intact, we'll keep our baseline mathematical estimate as a prediction at this point.