Grady Jarrett is the single most influential member of the Falcons’ defense, and perhaps even of the entire team. Not only does he regularly disrupt the opposing offense’s game plan on the field, but Jarrett also provides an incredible example of what NFL leadership is supposed to look like. He’s irreplaceable; the former Clemson Tiger is every coach’s favorite type of player because he gives consistent effort regardless of the situation, whether he’s in a practice or the playoffs. Dean Pees and the rest of the coaching staff have continually praised Jarrett’s play, leadership, and effort.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) December 9, 2021
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.
Jarrett is rightfully expecting to be one of the highest-paid interior defenders in this league. I think it would be wise to get ahead of the negotiation curve, given how he could perform this year. If Terry Fontenot and the front office began the process with Jarrett’s agent, it could save them some money. He is a two-time Pro Bowler with a season-best 7.5 sacks in one of those years. If the former fifth-round pick were to earn any league honors and/or top his best sack numbers, his price-tag would get much more expensive.
However, his numbers are being hurt with such an inferior supporting cast. The organization will undoubtedly reference this when discussing contract figures. Luckily for the Falcons and Jarrett, the NFL salary cap is expected to increase from $182.5 million this year to $208.2 million in 2022.
NFL salary cap per club by year:
*Projected to hit maximumhttps://t.co/0n4vG923BW
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 5, 2021
The $25.7 million increase is quite the sight for sore (Falcons fans’) eyes, who have recently only seen a frugal front office. The Falcons don’t only need the cap to rise; the more prominent issues lie in the team’s top contracts. 68% of Atlanta’s 2022 salary cap space is taken up by just five players, one of them being current Titan Julio Jones. Matt Ryan has a $48.7 million cap hit, which must be addressed; Jarrett’s $23.8 million cap hit in 2022, however, can easily be lowered with an extension. It seems obvious that the front office will eventually begin negotiations; Grady Jarrett is the exact type of player this staff wants in order to build a sustainable culture, but it might not happen this offseason.