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Of Grady Jarrett, CAA, and complicated Falcons contract negotiations

The Falcons can’t just afford to blindly alienate an agency that represents three of their biggest stars.

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Few of us are in a particularly charitable mood with regards to the Falcons front office at the moment. The Falcons can put a brave face on their current cap predicament all they like, but the reality is that they’re going to be crunched for space for a little while unless they start cutting more veterans like Ryan Schraeder, and they may soon to need to start cutting players they were actually counting on to contribute if they want to be active in the first couple of waves of free agency.

Still, it’s worth acknowledging just how complex these kinds of negotiations can be, and how many factors go into them that are largely invisible to those of us outside them. In the case of Grady Jarrett and the puzzling decision to keep Vic Beasley at $12.8 million, CAA and the powerhouse agency’s representation on the Falcons roster may well be a factor.

CAA counts among its clients Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Beasley, and Jarrett, as noted below. The Falcons have to make smart decisions that are best for their football team while balancing the need to not actively piss off the agents for three of their most important players and a former first round pick who could still be an impact player, however remote that possibility now seems.

CAA isn’t the reason Beasley is still on this roster at his current salary—any agency worth its salt would laugh in the Falcons’ face if they tried to pass along an extension that significantly lowered that cap number—but you can bet it is one of the web of factors the team had to consider. They’re now trying to get Jarrett to a multi-year deal that will allow them to lower his 2019 cap hit and achieve some financial flexibility and still have to get Julio Jones a new deal as promised, and they’ll be working with CAA every step of the way on both of those items. If Beasley has a bounceback year under Dan Quinn in 2019, they’ll need to negotiate with CAA yet again to keep him around for the long haul after this year, too, and it’s possible some of this year’s draft picks will also retain the agency.

It’s a complicating factor for a team that really doesn’t need any at the moment. I believe the Falcons when they say they’re not looking to make splashes in free agency—they make those sparingly—but retaining top-flight talent means making those low-impact signings count and really nailing the draft, and with all the pressure on Quinn and Dimitroff right now, that’s a lot of additional pressure. The only bright note to this offseason thus far, aside from the fact that the Falcons have managed to retain a handful of useful players, is that there’s still plenty of time for them to iron out their cap situation, get Jarrett locked up for the long term, and put a very good football team on the field come September.

Pair Jarrett’s understandable desire to get the largest contract possible, the Falcons’ cap space balancing act, the need to keep a quality working relationship with a huge agency, and the looming specter of big deals for Deion Jones and others, and you don’t have to be a fan of this front office to understand that they’re working with a difficult roadmap. If they can’t make it work, though, they’re as aware as we are that the blame will fall squarely on them.