The Falcons 2019 season can be best categorized as confusing. After entering the year with high hopes, it didn’t take long for expectations to come tumbling down on them. They began 1-7 and were eliminated from playoff contention by Thanksgiving. At times, the Falcons play left you questioning the overall talent, coaching, and effort being displayed each week. But there’s one player whose will has never been in doubt – Grady Jarrett.
The former fifth-round pick out of Clemson is in his fifth professional season. He burst onto the national scene in 2016, following his three-sack performance in the Super Bowl. However, for those who have the pleasure of watching him week to week, it was just another day at the office for the Falcons superstar defensive tackle. Jarrett has steadily improved each season, transforming from a run plugging defensive lineman into a quarterback’s worst nightmare since entering the league.
Following his memorable Super Bowl showing, Jarrett had a breakout 2017. He recorded a career-high 15 tackles for loss, double-digit QB hits for the first time, and set a temporary career-high in sacks with four of them. The next year, Jarrett replicated his success, upping his career-high in sacks to six and recording double-digit tackles for loss once again. He was undoubtedly deserving of his first Pro-Bowl nod, but fierce competition at the position left him waiting another year.
Despite the snub, Jarrett was in line for a massive payday this past offseason. The Falcons chose to franchise-tag him but worked diligently towards a long-term deal up until the deadline. And a little an hour before the bell rung, Jarrett signed a four-year, $68 million extension. Thank God they did too – because he has proven to be a steal at that price and is now under contract for three more seasons.
Jarrett is amid a career year in his fifth campaign. He’s set a career-high in tackles with 65, leads the NFL in run stuffs (run stops for no gain or a loss) with 20, has 5.5 sacks (0.5 off his career-high), 13 QB hits, and ten tackles for loss. Oh, and he still has two more games left to play. Yesterday, his ridiculous production was noticed finally. It was announced that he made the Pro-Bowl and will be a reserve behind Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox. There is no shame in that. If the Falcons were forced to franchise-tag Jarrett, and he hit the open market this offseason, he’d probably be looking at a contract around $100 million.
Not many players receive lucrative contract extensions and come back infinitely better. It’s easy to get fat and happy when you’re on top, especially when you’re used to being the underdog like Jarrett has been his entire career. But the son of former Falcons star linebacker Jessie Tuggle has brought it every week regardless of the circumstances.
It doesn’t matter how much he’s getting paid, whether it’s hot, cold, daytime or nighttime – when it’s game time –Jarrett is the most locked-in player on the field. His hands and quickness off the ball are impeccable, but it’s his hunger and relentless preparation that makes him the ideal franchise player. Jarrett told us the money wasn’t going to change his approach. If we’ve learned one thing this season – his word shouldn’t be taken lightly.