Grady Jarrett would very much like to land a huge long-term deal, and as such his team was reportedly hoping the stud defensive tackle would make it to the open market. Per ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, that’s not going to happen, and the Falcons will do what we all have come to expect in recent days and franchise tag their rising star.
This isn’t an ideal outcome for either side, if it proves to be true. Jarrett would undoubtedly like to be paid more than the franchise tag is going to allow for and gain some long-term security out of a new deal, while the Falcons would’ve undoubtedly liked to have more fiscal flexibility in 2019 that goes up in smoke with the $15.2 million on the tag. That leaves them even tighter in free agency than they may have expected to be, and it leaves Jarrett’s camp to fight for what he’s worth without the looming threat of a cash-flush market to parry Atlanta’s offers with. As a fan, I hate that it’s come to this, and I’m sure neither side feels much better about the outcome.
Given the reported gulf between the two sides, which has apparently not closed in recent weeks, it’s an open question whether the Falcons will even be able to work out an accord before free agency rolls back around next year. That’s a long way off, but even the notion that Jarrett really wanted to reach free agency has to be a disquieting one for the Falcons, and it could lead to long, acrimonious negotiations if things don’t get back on track. It’s also going to force Atlanta to at least think about contingency plans if Jarrett is absolutely determined to get out of town in 2020 or 2021. Where they elect to take a defensive tackle (or two) in this draft class may give us a clue about what’s ahead.
For now, expect to see the tag placed on Jarrett in the next day or so. We’ll hope against hope that the Falcons and Jarrett’s camp can work from here to get a long-term deal done.