Don't get it twisted, Mike Smith wants Jonathan Babineaux to sign an extension. And luckily, the love goes both ways: Babineaux would love to be back with the Falcons next season.
At the moment, there's not even an agreement in principle. They're not even close. They haven't even decided what color stationary the new contract will be printed on. Sure, the parties have talked, but this is likely Babineaux's last opportunity to secure his future, an he'd be a foolish to accept a contract that doesn't represent his market value.
Smith refused to discuss any details related to Babineaux's contract situation. Babineaux has a base salary of $4.7 million this season.
"Jonathan's been an integral part of our success here,'' Smith said, "and I can hope that he continues to be an Atlanta Falcon. We all do.''
I know some of you would rather we move on from Babineaux. He'll be 33 by week 5 of the 2014 season, it's not incomprehensible. If the Falcons can bring him back on a team-friendly deal that keeps his cap hit somewhere between $4-5 million, I'm all for it. That may seem like a lot, and it is - he'd still be one of the better paid defensive tackles in the league. But I'd argue he's worth it. The U.S.S. Babs, as he's affectionately known, has more tackles for a loss (49.5) than any other defensive tackle since 2005 (the year he was drafted). He's an absolute beast in the trenches. Heck, rumor has it he's made 6 different NFL guards pee all over themselves.
All that said, the Falcons must also decide whether to retain Peria Jerry and Corey Peters. Both men have contracts that expire this season. I don't want to experience the reality where bringing back Jerry is a viable option. On the other hand, it'd be shameful to let Peters walk.
The Falcons can ill afford similar output from their defensive line in 2014. Maybe an infusion of youth and new talent is just what they need. I tend to think there's some balance between a revamp and a rebuild mentality the Falcons must strike.