FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Julio Jones let it all out there, whether he knew he was on live television or not. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith kept everything on his end private.
"Like any private conversation I have with our players, it's going to remain private," Smith said before voluntary Organized Team Activities began on Tuesday. "I'm not going to sit here and comment on any potential roster moves we may or may not make."
Smith was bombarded with questions regarding Jones' phone call with Shannon Sharpe on FS1's Undisputed Monday. When asked if he wanted to stay in Atlanta or get traded to the Dallas Cowboys, Jones said "I'm out of here." Jones went on to say he wanted to go somewhere where he could "win."
Speculation regarding a trade involving Jones has persisted since the off-season began. The Falcons face a serious salary cap issue with virtually no room left and none of the team's draft picks signed.
Jones was also spotted over the weekend in Dallas wearing a Dallas Cowboys hoodie, something Smith said he did not see.
"We encourage to our players that they should speak for themselves," Smith said. "It doesn't change anything for us. We understand what our plan is moving forward."
"I respect everyone's opinions. We all have opinions," Smith said when asked about Jones' win now comment. "They can wear what they want to wear, say what they want to say. It's fine. It's healthy. But, look, I don't really think it's earth-shattering when a headline [says] a pro football coach wants to win."
The Falcons have stated several times that they are not in a rebuild and do expect to contend. Many believe that to be why they drafted tight end Kyle Pitts No. 4 overall last month and not draft a quarterback in the first round.
Smith said that Jones has access to everything disseminated by the team virtually, such as the playbook, regardless of his absence to voluntary workouts.
This is the first major public incident Smith is having to handle as a head coach. He answered repeated questions respectfully, while mostly stating he wouldn't comment on private conversations.
"There's always something that's going to come up. It's part of the job description. If you don't like problems, stay out of leadership," Smith said.
Smith said majority of the roster showed up for voluntary OTAs, which started on Tuesday.