Imagine a fantasy world where Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank rides around on his purple unicorn, throwing solid gold coins at rabid crowds by the handful. It’s a world where money doesn’t matter, and the salary cap is an defunct artifact no one even mentions anymore. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Unfortunately that’s not the reality we live in.
The Falcons are singularly focused on getting Matt Ryan’s contract extension done right now. Once it’s a done deal, they will move on to their next contract conundrum. And like it or not, the contract conundrums will come at the Falcons fast and furious over the next couple years. Hard decisions loom, particularly when it comes to their ability to keep their young, talented defensive core intact.
This leads me to Aaron Donald. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Donald is about to get paid. He’s not just going to make Ndamukong Suh or Von Miller money. He’s going to get more money than both of those future hall of famers. And this isn’t blind projection by casual observers. Even his GM admits he’s going to be the highest paid defensive player in the NFL in the not-so-distant future.
The question is a simple one: How does this affect the Falcons in their negotiations with Grady Jarrett? Don’t forget, Jarrett is entering his contract year. He’s undoubtedly one of the best young defensive tackles in the game. He’s not on Donald’s level, but let’s be honest, nobody is on Donald’s level. (Donald earned a 99.7 grade from Pro Football Focus this season, 1st among interior defensive linemen. Jarrett earned an 87.1 grade, 14th among interior defensive linemen.) Jarrett won’t get nearly as much money as Donald, but Donald’s deal will elevate the market, necessitating a bigger investment from Uncle Arthur.
I suppose this is all par for the course. This is how NFL contracts work and have always worked. The rub is that some NFL teams are negatively affected by bad timing, and the Falcons may be one of those teams.
Your thoughts, Falcoholics?