Falcons ‘Working Hard’ to Retain Key Defender

Grady Jarrett

Getty Grady Jarrett #97 of the Atlanta Falcons.

The Atlanta Falcons are not done making some big decisions.

Without Matt Ryan, Pro Bowl defender Grady Jarrett is currently the Falcons’ highest-paid player on the team at $16 million with a cap hit of $23 million, per spotrac.

If the Falcons plan to re-sign him, it will have to be through an extension, allowing the team to restructure his contract to lower his cap hit to free up more money for Atlanta to sign more free agents and the 2022 rookies.

Another option is to just trade Jarrett, but that doesn’t seem to be the direction the Falcons plan to go.

Arthur Blank and Arthur Smith are in the Same Boat

Franchise owner Arthur Blank recently appeared on Atlanta’s 92.9 The Game with the Dukes and Bell show where he discussed Grady’s future.

“Absolutely, we love Grady. He’s a great leader, great player. Grady makes the whole thing better,” Blank said. “So, we’re working hard to try and make that happen.

“But we’re also being thoughtful about it because you don’t want to put yourself back into the same situation that we just got out of [Matt Ryan’s massive cap hits]. But we love Grady.”

Head coach Arthur Smith is in the same boat as Blank and hopes Jarrett chooses to stay but remained neutral and understands how the business works.

“I’m not going to predict that I 100 percent know,” Smith said on March 29 at the NFL owners’ meetings, via AtlantaFalcons.com. “He knows where we stand. We love Grady. We also know that players may have their own opinions, and that’s welcome. It’s part of doing business. We’ll see how it plays out. I love Grady and we’d love to keep coaching him.”

Jarrett will turn 29 at the start of the 2022 season and it’s possible that he could be looking in the direction of another team that isn’t in the process of a full rebuild as he enters his 30s.

Jarrett Has Been With the Falcons Since 2015

Similar to Matt Ryan, Jarrett has been in Atlanta for his entire career since the Falcons selected him in the 2015 NFL Draft.

To snag the Clemson product, the Falcons traded two draft picks to the Minnesota Vikings to move up in the third round. As a rookie, Jarrett saw action in 15 games and finished the season with 24 tackles, four tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, and one sack.

The following year, Jarrett played all 16 games, starting 14. He ended the 2016 season with 48 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits, and three sacks. He also played a big part in the Falcons’ Super Bowl LI trip and Jarrett sacked Tom Brady three times to tie th record for most sacks in a single Super Bowl game.

He started all 16 games again in 2017, logging a career-high 55 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, and four sacks. Jarrett managed to top those numbers in 2018 and finished the season with career-highs in both sacks and forced fumbles, with 6 and 3.

Ahead of the 2019 season, Atlanta placed the franchise tag on Jarrett and he signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension, which lingers today. Jarrett logged his best year yet with a career-high 7.5 sacks and 69 tackles, along with 11 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles. He was also invited to his first Prop Bowl and named second-team All-Pro. He then earned his second Pro Bowl in 2020 after finishing the season recording four more sacks and 52 tackles.

Jarrett managed just one sack last season with 59 combined tackles, 12 quarterback hits and a fumble recovery. While his sack production declined under new defensive coordinator Dean Pees, Jarrett still remains a valuable asset to a young Falcons defense.


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