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Falcoholic roundtable mailbag series: Why haven’t the Falcons signed Grady Jarrett and Julio Jones yet?

It’s a question that’s on everyone’s mind.

Arizona Cardinals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Today’s our final mailbag roundtable, and today we’re answering a question that came in from Daria Gatlin Lewis. It’s one that’s weighing on every Falcons fan’s mind this offseason.

Daria wants to know what’s taking so long for the Falcons to work out long-term deals with Grady Jarrett and Julio Jones. We know it’s a priority for the team, and we know that the Falcons have been negotiating with both players. Signing them to long-term deals would free up some cap now to add more talent, and Jarrett and Jones will be happy, so it’s a win-win.

What’s the holdup? Our staff weighs in below.

Phew. This is a great question because contract negotiations seem to persist in Flowery Branch for far longer than necessary. Like clockwork, the team will publicly express optimism a deal with get done then nothing happens for a year. They were talking to both Jarrett and Jones the last year about long-term deals. Since then, new deals have pushed up both of their respective prices while the team has missed out on chances of reworking their cap hit and signing other players. It’s also common for a holdout player to miss valuable practice time, get out of game shape, then get injured when getting up to full speed. This is playing out in the worst way possible and we still don’t know why. — Matt

It’s the great dance. The Falcons, like any other NFL team, are trying to get the best possible deal for the future. They want team-friendly years, guarantees, and the ability to control their cap and escape or re-structure a deal if things go sour. Players, meanwhile, want security, lots of guaranteed money, and sometimes the status that comes with being the highest-paid or one of the highest-paid players at their particular position. Those two sides are inherently incompatible and NFL contracts are complex, hence the holdup. As much as we’d like to have these deals done simply and cleanly, there are factors beyond the ones I’ve outlined here that animate these discussions that we’ll never even know about. As long as it gets done before Jarrett’s a free agent again and Julio’s a supremely disgruntled elite wideout. —Dave Choate

Part of the Process. Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett are elite players, and elite players can command elite money. To broker a deal for an elite player to get elite money, it takes a moment to really get all sides on the same page. Patience is key in a moment like this when folks get antsy about the deals not being done, but all will be well once the dotted line gets its John Hancocks. “If” and “when” are two big words to consider here, and the Falcons are in “when” territory with Jones and Jarrett. They’ll get these deals done; it’s just a matter of the day and the amount agreed upon. — Cory Woodroof

Scared money don’t make no money. I wish I had an answer for you, but contract agreements are tricky. When you’re dealing with players of Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett’s caliber, negotiations are going to take a while, and both sides know it. There’s a serious possibility that Julio Jones could become the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver. You may recall that last year Julio stayed away from the Falcons’ mandatory minicamp in the hopes that he would receive an update to his 5-year, $71.25 million deal. The unfortunate part about these situations is it causes the team to shy away from making any big offseason moves, such as signing a defensive tackle such as Gerald McCoy. The deals will eventually get done, it just may not be until mid-to-late June. Great question, Daria Gatlin Lewis! - Evan Birchfield

It’s a big-money negotiation. Personally, I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about these deals. It’s been abundantly clear from both Dimitroff and Blank that the team views Grady Jarrett and Julio Jones as “pillars” of the team. Neither are going anywhere and both sides know that. That’s why the negotiations are taking so long. I’d guess the two sides are quibbling over guarantees—that’s usually what holds up most big-money contracts. The Falcons have until July to sign Grady before the franchise tag becomes locked in, so I’d expect the negotiations to heat up this month. With Julio, I think the deal is likely to be done soon—particularly if they’re trying to make a move in free agency after June 1st. —Kevin Knight

It’s the art of negotiation. We obviously don’t know the whole story in regard to the negotiation — how much is being demanded, how much exactly the team is willing to give, where the hold up is happening ect. We only know what the team has chosen to tell us. In regard to Jarrett, it seems as if both sides are biding their team and using their leverage — Grady and his agent know that the team needs to sign him to an extension to reduce that massive franchise tag cap hit; the team knows that it’s in Grady’s best interest to sign a long term deal for security purposes. I feel like Jarrett’s deal is being prioritized at the moment and that Julio’s extension will come shortly afterward. - Adnan

These dudes are trying to secure the bag. And I don’t blame them. Grady and Julio are both indispensable, and they know it. That lets them bargain from a position of strength, and it makes it harder for a team like Atlanta that is up against the cap to get a deal inked. Teams negotiate contracts from the perspective of protecting the team if a player’s productivity declines or they choose to move on from them, so they’ll try to backload the contract and get rid of as much guaranteed cash as possible up front to limit potential dead cap impact in the future. The players, on the other hand, are trying to protect their financial futures. Issues like the amount of guaranteed money, the length of the contract, and the specific payout structure are going to be hot topics of discussion, and it’s just going to take some time for both sides to find an acceptable happy medium. It’ll get done, so don’t fret, but it might take a while still. - Jeanna