The Falcons made quite the commitment to Grady Jarrett, signing him to a four-year, $68 million contract earlier this week. That makes him the third highest-paid interior defensive lineman (in AAV) – behind only Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox. It’s a signal that Thomas Dimitroff and the rest of the organization believe the best has yet to come from the former fifth-round pick as he enters his age 26 season.
A lot of young guys – when they get paid – might take their foot off the gas a bit. But don’t expect that from Jarrett, who emphasized money is not the ultimate motivator for him in an interview with 92.9 The Game yesterday.
“More than anything – I’m motivated,” Jarrett said. “A lot of times guys get a big check, and they go to chill and relax. I just feel like its totally the opposite. Like I said in my interviews at minicamp, I just feel like there is so much more out there for me.”
Those are the kind of words you want to hear out of one of your franchise cornerstones, especially after inking a lucrative contract extension. But from what we know about Jarrett, we shouldn’t expect anything less.
Since his days at Clemson, he has been a notorious leader of men. Dabo Swinney called him one of the building blocks of the program that has now won two national titles in the last three years because of the way he prepared daily. That leadership has translated to the pros, as it only took Jarrett one year to earn respect from his peers at the next level.
“I’ve been in that (leadership) role since I got to the Falcons,” Jarrett said. “My first year was a learning year for me, but since that first year, I’ve always been in a leadership role; I’ve always had the respect of my peers by the way I work day in and day out.”
That’s one of the many reasons Jarrett was named one of the six chiefs of the Falcons last season, which is essentially a captain’s role. He’s a player that makes others better because of his sky-high expectations for his teammates, and more importantly, himself.
“There is no more pressure, no expectations anyone out there can have more than the ones I have for myself,” Jarrett said. “I’m hungry; I’m always hungry for more. It’s not a greedy thing; it’s a thing of always wanting to continue to be better, and be at the top of your game. That’s what drives me.”
It doesn’t hurt that Jarrett will have another opportunity at a monster contract before he turns 30-years-old. However, he believes whatever was going to happen on the football field is still going to happen regardless of his contract situation. What moves the needle for him is being the best possible football player he can be. A Hall-of-Fame attitude for a player on a Hall-of-Fame track if Jarrett can continue to build off his remarkable 2018 season.