The Falcons have several gut-wrenching decisions to make regarding players who have been key contributors during the franchise’s most successful period to date. Are Robert Alford and Vic Beasley subject to becoming cap casualties? Will the Falcons opt to pass on offering Tevin Coleman a long-term extension? How in the world are they going to patch up the offensive line? Those will each cause both Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitrioff to lose some sleep at night, but not all the decisions have to be so strenuous- like handing a fat extension to Grady Jarrett.
The Falcons got away with highway robbery in the fifth-round of the 2015 draft, selecting Jarrett out of Clemson who was teammates with Vic Beasley- the Falcons first-round pick that same year. Although, it would be Jarrett that would transform into the type of player you can build your defense around.
It didn’t take long for Jarrett to show that his shorter stature for an interior defensive lineman would be a non-factor in his development. After spending his rookie year as a rotational player, Jarrett took over the starting role in 2016, racking up three sacks in the regular season and serving as a brick wall against the run. Then the Super Bowl happened, and Grady Jarrett became a star on the national stage. He sacked Tom Brady three times, and would have been a candidate for Super Bowl MVP had the Falcons just run the damn…
Anyways, the next year, he was robbed of a Pro-Bowl nomination after a stellar season that saw him accumulate 39 QB pressures, 4 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. This year, he will surely get the nod, as he aims to set career-highs in tackles, sacks and quarterbacks hits. He’s become one of the most dominant interior defensive forces in the NFL, and he doesn’t even have any help around him. Just imagine what those numbers will look like once the Falcons surround him with more talent.
Aside from his on-the-field performance, Jarrett has earned a reputation of a player that every team needs in their locker room. Being overlooked is nothing new for him. Out of high school, he was only a three-star recruit, receiving limited offers. At Clemson, it took him a couple years to grow into one of the pillars of the program. By the time he became a full-time starter, here is how his former coach Dabo Swinney described him, “… But Grady is the heart and soul of the defense. Relentless in his preparation. Relentless in his effort…”
It didn’t take long to hear the same type of things from the Falcons coaches once he arrived in Atlanta, either. He is currently a team captain and one of Dan Quinn’s six “chiefs”- players who exemplify the work necessary to achieve the team’s goals. Not to mention, he is the Falcons 2018 nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which honors a player’s volunteer and charity work as well as their excellence on the football field.
With the Falcons needing to search every crevice to find help across the defensive line, the first thing they need to do is lock up Jarrett for the foreseeable future. He may not quite be in the elite level of guys like Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox yet, but he’s the next best thing, and there’s still hope that he could be even better as he enters his prime. There is no reason the Falcons should make this harder than it has to be. Sign the man. Lock him up long-term. He’s worth every penny.