The Atlanta Falcons need to get creative to free up some space under the salary cap ahead of free agency this year. It’s a tough needle to thread for general manager Terry Fontenot, who must ensure the rebuilding process gets some fresh blood without having to sacrifice some of the core pieces already in place.
One established talent the Falcons won’t want to lose is defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. He’s a perfect example of the balancing act facing Fontenot.
Jarrett is on a lucrative contract that carries a significant cap hit for 2022. He looks like a prime candidate to be cut, but Jarrett is also one of the more disruptive interior defensive linemen in the game.
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The Falcons would be wise to keep Jarrett, and that’s something Fontenot is “planning” to make happen sooner rather than later, according to one NFL reporter.
Jarrett Contract Extension Would Help Falcons
NFL Network’s Steve Wyche, spoke about the Falcons’ cap plight on an episode of NFL Now. Wyche retweeted the segment, during which he addressed many topics, including the futures of Cordarrelle Patterson and quarterback Matt Ryan.
Jarrett also featured prominently, with Wyche revealing this key piece of information, beginning at the 0:27 mark: “Restructuring defensive lineman Grady Jarrett, extending him, that’s what they’re planning on doing. That’ll probably happen soon.”
So plans are already in place and advanced to keep Jarrett in the fold, but on restructured terms. That last part is crucial since the 28-year-old is set to count for $23.833 million against this year’s cap, according to Spotrac.com.
The Falcons need help any way they can get it because the franchise is projected to be $6,590,266 over the cap. Working something out with Jarrett makes sense, and Fontenot has leverage after the player’s form slumped somewhat in 2021.
Jarrett registered a career-low one sack last season and appeared to struggle in a new scheme. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ system called for linemen to absorb blockers rather than beat them, and Jarrett became a magnet for double- and triple-teams.
His skills may be better suited to a more active defense where he has greater license to get into the backfield. Jarrett’s previously flourished in this type of scheme, one reason why he remains a viable trade target.
Jarrett Trade Rumors Not Going Away
If the Falcons can’t agree a new, restructured deal with Jarrett, it might be simpler to trade him. The numbers make sense, per Alex Lord of SportsTalkAtl.com: “Trading him on March 6 will only cost the Falcons $7.3 million in dead money while saving Atlanta over $16 million.”
There would also be no shortage of suitors based on the building rumors Jarrett could be on the block. PlayerProfiler.com’s Cam Marino has reported the Falcons are sounding out teams who would would potentially strike a deal for the former two-time Pro-Bowler:
Ballentine thinks putting Jarrett between rush ends Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney would be worth the Browns giving up a second-round pick this year and a fourth-rounder in 2023.
The Falcons have a tricky decision to make regarding Jarrett. His talent means he’s sure to fetch a decent-sized bounty in trade, but his skills also make him worth keeping on a defense with the potential to take a stride or two this year.