The Falcons find themselves in the midst of a rebuild with more than enough draft capital to reload the roster as the team attempts to find the organization’s next franchise quarterback. They’ve accumulated draft picks from trading Falcons greats like Julio Jones and Matt Ryan, but the Falcons could always use more attempts come draft time. The greatest asset still on the roster is Grady Jarrett, who is entering the final year of his current contract.
There are a few options the Falcons have with the Georgia native’s future in Atlanta. They could extend or trade him this offseason or franchise tag him following the 2022 season, then discuss an extension or ship him to a team willing to work out a new contract with Jarrett.
Arthur Smith made it apparent the Falcons covet Jarrett’s leadership and skill set, but the first-time head coach refused to commit to anything definitive about the Clemson product’s future with the team.
“I’m not going to predict that I 100 percent know,” Smith said. “He knows where we stand. We love Grady. We also know that players may have their own opinions, and that’s welcome. It’s part of doing business. We’ll see how it plays out. I love Grady and we’d love to keep coaching him.”
Signing Jarrett to an extension would lower his 2021 cap hit, which would create cap space for the Falcons to sign other free agents and their 2022 draft class. Smith refused to reveal any private conversations, but many people are taking his words as confirmation the Falcons will eventually part ways with Jarrett, which I just don’t see.
I believe trading the former Pro Bowler is the best course of action, but Smith’s words didn’t indicate anything more than negotiations were ongoing and uncertain at this point. The Falcons clearly value Jarrett, but I don’t see an extension being in the team’s best interest.
It’s clear the Falcons’ 2022 season should be seen as a throwaway year. The roster just isn’t in a position, or even close, to compete. To fully commit to the rebuild, I floated the idea of trading Jarrett.
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.
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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