The NFL offseason is a continual grind for everyone, but none more so than the GM. Thomas Dimitroff has to figure out who to cut, who to sign, who to draft, and eventually, who to extend. Following the all-important NFL Draft, three-fourths of the process is essentially complete, with one final piece remaining: the extensions.
Since the end of the Falcons’ season, Dimitroff and Quinn have reiterated the importance of inking Grady Jarrett and Julio Jones to long-term deals. A promising theory that is much easier said than done. Jarrett, who is coming off his best season as a pro, just witnessed Aaron Donald’s deal last offseason. Nobody would argue that Jarrett is in the same league as Donald, but that’s not necessarily how NFL contracts work. The cream of the crop at each position (which Jarrett is apart of) usually sets the bar on the market when it’s their turn to get paid. So it should not be astonishing to hear that the Falcons’ star defensive tackle is looking for “Aaron Donald” money.
If the Falcons don’t give it to him, and there is a legitimate argument for why they shouldn’t, another team with gobs of cap space surely will. The ball is in Jarrett’s court, as long as he is willing to forgo future financial security by playing under the franchise tag.
With that said, the Falcons may have shown their hand a bit by focusing primarily on the offensive side of the ball all offseason. Their main free agent signings were all offensive players. Adrian Clayborn is the only defensive signing that projects to play a significant role, and he’s on a one-year deal. The Falcons first three picks in the draft were all invested into the offensive line. They didn’t pick a defensive player until the early fourth round and waited until pick #135 to address the defensive line.
I have high hopes for John Cominsky, but I don’t see him convincing the Falcons they do not have to dole out the cash to retain Grady Jarrett. All the talk about Atlanta taking a defensive tackle in the first round never came to fruition. Instead, they decided not to address the position at all, leaving one to think Dimitroff’s focus between now and July 15th will be on finding common ground with Jarrett.
The Falcons are in a position where they will have nearly half of their salary cap committed 5-10 players. That’s what happens when you draft well, and it’s a challenging process determining which ones should stay and which ones should go. That’s where the artistry of GMs like Thomas Dimitroff comes in. He’s going to have to make some gut-wrenching decisions over the next couple of years. But taking into account how little the Falcons have invested in the future of their defensive line, the writing is on the wall for them to finalize a deal with Jarrett.