FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — One day before the season opener, Atlanta Falcons and former University of Alabama receiver Julio Jones got his long-awaited contract extension Saturday, agreeing to a three-year, $66 million deal.

The extension is nearly fully guaranteed when he signs. It locks in Jones through the 2023 season and removes a potentially major headache for the Falcons before Sunday’s game at Minnesota.

The deal was announced as the team was departing for Minneapolis.

Jones first sought a new contract more than a year ago. He reported for training camp when the Falcons enhanced his current deal and agreed to discuss a lucrative new extension before this season.

Negotiations dragged on far longer than expected, putting in doubt whether Jones would suit up against the Vikings.

The 30-year-old Jones is a six-time Pro Bowler coming off another huge season. Even as the Falcons slumped to a 7-9 record, he had 113 receptions for an NFL-leading 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns.

Heading into his ninth NFL season, he has 698 receptions for 10,731 yards and 51 touchdowns in 111 career games.

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