Written by: Joe Carlino, @joecarlino14
With mere hours left before the NFL’s mandated deadline to extend players hit with the franchise tag, reports came out this morning that the Falcons and star interior defensive linemen Grady Jarrett were not expected to reach a deal before said deadline. However, not even a couple of hours from the initial report, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported there was “hope” that the team would reach an extension with Jarrett without needing to keep him on the tag and risk going through this situation again next offseason.
And with just over an hour left before the deadline, the Falcons did exactly what they intended to, announcing they had agreed to terms with Jarrett on a four-year, $68 million extension with $42.5 in guaranteed money. The deal ensures the Falcons lock up a key piece of their defense, prevents Jarrett from playing under the tag of $15.209 million, and makes him the third-highest paid defensive linemen behind Fletcher Cox and Aaron Donald.
A fifth-round pick in the same 2015 draft which saw Atlanta select fellow Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley Jr., Jarrett has been an anchor on the Falcons defensive line, consistently generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks and providing much-needed help in the run game. He emerged during the Super Bowl 51 loss to New England, tying a Super Bowl record with three sacks on Tom Brady, and since then has continued to showcase his dominance, currently holding career stats of 179 tackles and 14 sacks.
Back when the offseason began, the Falcons stated their top priorities were star receiver Julio Jones and Jarrett, who owner Arthur Blank has stated would be “Falcons for life.” According to general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the franchise tag was only placed on Jarrett to enable Atlanta a wider range to negotiate a deal with him.
Now that this goal has been accomplished, the team can focus on securing a deal with Jones, who they promised a new contract last year, and linebacker Deion Jones, who with Jarrett creates a tandem in the front seven that isn’t easily replicated in today’s league. One thing’s for sure, though: the Falcons just proved to the rest of the league that when their owner says something about his players, his staff will do whatever is necessary to keep his word.