The Falcons are weeks away from free agency, but they’re still approximately $7 million over the league salary cap. Given the vast holes on the roster, Atlanta will have to be extremely active in free agency.
Monday on NFL Network, Steve Wyche shed light on how the Falcons plan to create that cap space to get them to a point where they can be “mid-market” shoppers in free agency. One of the biggest cap-saving moves revolves around Grady Jarrett‘s future, which Wyche alludes to being secure with a contract extension looming.
Jarrett is one of the highest-character individuals in the Falcons organization, and building a new culture in Atlanta should start with keeping him around longer than his current contract dictates. He’s playing in the second-to-last year of a 4-year, $68 million deal; however, that still gives the front office plenty of time to lock him up for the future. Currently, Jarrett is the seventh-highest paid interior defender in total value, seventh in APY, and fifth in total guaranteed — all contract figures are courtesy of Spotrac.
Even though he’s still under contract for the 2022 season, the Falcons would be wise to hammer out a deal before he hits the open market while simultaneously lowering his cap hit for 2022. As one of the top interior defenders in the league, his representation will obviously be looking for Aaron Donald-esque money — a 6-year, $135 million contract extension with the Rams from 2018. Signed three years ago, contract figures always rise, so that deal is definitely a marker for Grady’s camp. He made comments to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic at the beginning of the season about his contract situation.
“Last question: Is there anything you can say about your contract? The Falcons obviously want to extend your deal, which runs through 2022, but have obvious cap issues.”
“I don’t know. I want to see how this season shakes out. After this, I don’t have any guarantees left. (The guaranteed money is done after this season.) I’m just focused on playing right now. For real. I’m not really pressed about it. In due time. I learned from last time when we were going through this. It doesn’t stress me out because I know I’ll do my part.”
Jarrett is a naturally unselfish human being, so this textbook public relations answer shouldn’t be surprising. He doesn’t want to come off as unsettling or self-indulging. Grady is the quintessential pro’s pro, and he probably expects to be compensated fairly. Even still, when asked about staying in Atlanta, Jarrett didn’t answer directly and just referenced an understanding of the business that is the NFL.
“Do you want to stay here?”
“I love Atlanta, you know that. I love playing for Mr. Blank and the organization and everything they stand for. But at the end of the day, we all know how business goes. However it shakes out for me, Atlanta will always be home. But I love where I’m at, and I want to win where I’m at. But I understand the business and the way things go as well.”
Jarrett only has one sack on the season, which benefits the franchise at the contract-negotiation table. Earlier in the year, I talked about how getting a deal done sooner rather than later could be a cost-effective decision.
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