Falcons' Blank disappointed by Jones' trade request: It 'bothered me'
"I think the part that bothered me personally was the fact that he expressed that he wanted to be traded," Blank told reporters Thursday, according to ESPN's Michael Rothstein. "You know, we had a 10-year relationship. I think it was a good relationship. It was certainly productive.
"He's a Hall of Fame player, so I was disappointed he felt that way. For whatever reasons, I'm not sure. I was unable to speak with him myself. I tried to, but he felt the way he felt and was ready to make a change."
The Falcons traded Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-rounder earlier this offseason.
Blank, who has owned the Falcons for nearly two decades, said the franchise would prioritize players who want to be with the team moving forward. He added that trading the seven-time Pro Bowler was beneficial for both sides.
Jones' departure gave Atlanta much-needed cap space to sign its 2021 draft class led by tight end Kyle Pitts.
"We have tremendous regard for the player and the human being as well," Blank said of Jones. "And he's given us 10 great years - and that's about half of my ownership - and set all kinds of records."
Blank said the Falcons did not initially intend to deal the former All-Pro after an injury-plagued 2020 campaign that saw Jones haul in 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns in nine appearances.
Jones, 32, spent 10 seasons with Atlanta after the Falcons traded five draft picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up and select him sixth overall in 2011.
Though he's disheartened by Jones' exit, Blank doesn't place any blame on new Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot or head coach Arthur Smith.
"The time was right for him to move on, and I think the coach did what he could, and the general manager did what he could to have him try to stay," said Blank. "But he was ready to move."