The Falcons have staved off the inevitable rebuild until now. Atlanta has tried to cling to relevancy ever since 2016, which has been tied to Matt Ryan and his massively restructured contract. The former regime constantly restructured already over-valued contracts, so they’re certainly to blame for the situation the team is in. However, the new regime isn’t free of blame.
Since Arthur Blank announced the hires of Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot, the entire organization had the same motto — win now, without sacrificing the future. It would’ve been a noble approach, but the roster and its contracts didn’t warrant that kind of strategy. The answer from the get-go was to tear it down and rebuild; however, Blank clearly hired people who wanted to compete right away. Now, the rebuild is here.
If the Falcons are truly committed to rebuilding, they will explore trading Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones. Jarrett is entering a contract year this season and will surely command serious financial commitment next offseason in free agency. Even if the Falcons want to extend Jarrett, it wouldn’t make sense. He’s going to be 29-years-old by the start of the 2022 season and will undoubtedly seek a lucrative, multi-year deal. The Falcons timeline just doesn’t match up with Jarrett’s prime and contract term. The market would be robust for a player of Jarrett’s caliber, so the Falcons would be wise to cash in on the former All-Pro.
Deion Jones’ situation is quite different. Trading Jones would come with some serious dead money. With the Falcons set to pay over $62 million in dead cap this season, adding any more would be a tough pill to swallow. Still, there’s an argument to be had that fully committing to the rebuild is the right move, so any financial ramifications are limited to just one year.
I’d argue not trading Jarrett this season and letting him walk in free agency would be grounds to put Fontenot on the hot seat. On the contrary, if Fontenot re-signs Jarrett, I’d argue the same. The Falcons are in no position to pay an interior defender $20 million AAV moving forward. Holding off on trading Jones is palatable because of the dead cap associated with the move, but both situations deserve to be explored.
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