Falcons: Getting a Grady Jarrett contract extension done before the season could be a cost-effective decision

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It very rarely happens this close to the start of the season, but getting a contract extension done with Grady Jarrett before Week 1 could prove to be a cost-effective decision. Jarrett is playing in the second-to-last year of a 4-year, $68 million contract; he’s still under team control in 2022, which gives the front office plenty of time to lock him up for the future. On his current deal, he’s the seventh-highest paid interior defender in total value, eighth in APY, and sixth in total guaranteed.

Jarrett will surely look to get as close to re-setting the market as he can. He’s clearly shown to be one of the five best players at his position, even on a disappointing defense the past few years. Obviously, re-setting the market would include topping Aaron Donald‘s 6-year, $135 million contract extension with the Rams from 2018. I don’t think anyone would argue on behalf of Jarrett that he deserves to be paid more than Donald; in fact, I don’t think Jarrett would argue he was better — outside of his pure competitive drive.

Still, Jarrett is rightfully expecting to be one of the highest-paid interior defenders in this league. I think it would be wise to get ahead of the negotiation curve, given how he could perform this year. If Terry Fontenot and the front office began the process with Jarrett’s agent, it could save them some money. He is a two-time Pro Bowler with a season-best 7.5 sacks in one of those years. If the former fifth-round pick were to earn any league honors and/or top his best sack numbers, his price-tag would get much more expensive.

Terry Fontenot is an intelligent man; he knows what he is doing. A lot is going on with the season right around the corner as he evaluates the current roster and still looks to acquire outside personnel to improve it. Still, Fontenot could be knowingly waiting until the next offseason to see how Jarrett performs this year for negotiating purposes. The defense is clearly not very talented, so if Jarrett underperforms, the front office has leverage at the negotiating table.

There is a potential out next offseason that leaves the Falcons with just over $7 million in dead cap, but the front office would never cut a player of Jarrett’s caliber. If they weren’t satisfied with his production, they would simply trade him, which is totally out of the question as well. Arthur Smith has said how much he admires Jarrett’s work ethic and complimented his consistency, showing up day in and day out. Jarrett will surely get a contract extension from the new regime, and it could be the very first one, but it might behoove them to get one hammered out now.

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