The other day, I asked whether the Falcons were going to extend Grady Jarrett or move him in the aftermath of the Matt Ryan trade. It’s a pressing question because Jarrett’s contract is up after this year, and the future of the team’s longest-tenured and arguably best defender seemed uncertain with the team launching into a new phase in their rebuild.
Happily for those of us who are big Jarrett fans, it appears the team has been working on an extension in relative silence for a while now. Steve Wyche indicated that was the case in late February, and now Albert Breer writes in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column that the Falcons are still hopeful that a deal will be struck soon. The only question now is when—or, I guess, whether—it happens.
The fact that a month has passed since Wyche’s report and the Falcons are still working on this indicates that we shouldn’t have particular expectations for timelines here. Atlanta would undoubtedly like to get a deal done to free up cap space to pursue more free agents, given Terry Fontenot’s strong preference to fill needs ahead of the draft, so I’d expect the team to target completing an extension in the next couple of weeks. As we may remember from the last time Jarrett’s representation and the team negotiated an extension, these things can drag out into the summer months, so Atlanta may need to find another path to more dollars.
Matt Ryan never specifically told the Falcons that he wanted to go to the Colts, but it was clear from the minute Indianapolis was raised as a possibility that he’d be good with it.@AlbertBreer takes us inside the trade talks: https://t.co/TORMVnqVsk— The MMQB (@theMMQB) March 28, 2022
The team’s preference for extending Jarrett makes sense. Dean Pees will want defenders he can rely on even in what’s likely to be a rough 2022 season, and if the Falcons plan to contend in 2023 their defense is going to be a hell of a lot better with Jarrett on it than without him. As one of the team’s few long-tenured veterans and a recognized locker room leader, Jarrett has value that goes beyond his production as a defensive lineman, and at least for the next few years he’s absolutely worth building this defensive front around. I’m hopeful we’ll get good news here soon.
Matt Ryan’s market and trade timeline
The Breer insight comes in a much longer piece about Matt Ryan’s trade timeline that fills in the gaps of what we knew about this situation without providing a ton of illumination, which is why I led with the Jarrett news. Still, it’s worth your time to read it.
Per Breer, the Falcons first started having casual conversations about Ryan’s trade value at the Combine, which began the day Jason La Canfora reported that teams were being told the Falcons weren’t moving Ryan. That may have been in part because Breer says the Falcons were going to have a hard time getting back more than a fourth round pick for him, an eyebrow-raising statement, which may in turn have spurred the team to get his restructure rolling with the expectation that they’d be keeping him.
Breer also indicates the Falcons got the Colts to negotiate up to their second of two third round selections, but it’s hard to square this with Terry Fontenot seemingly admitting during the press conference last week that the Falcons could’ve shopped Ryan to more teams and gotten a better return. It’s still an interesting nugget.
The timeline otherwise seems to line up the way we thought it did. Atlanta had done some level of checking into Deshaun Watson before the grand jury declined to charge him—they didn’t talk to his accusers, as Jeanna Kelley reported—and jumped feet-first into an attempt to trade for him once the grand jury decision happened. Around that time, they started putting out feelers to the Colts and Arthur Smith talked to Matt Ryan directly to inform him that the team was going after Watson and promised to keep him involved in trade talks, which in turn spurred Ryan to push back his roster bonus.
The Colts talks picked up while the team was pursuing Watson. When Watson went to the Brows, Breer reports that Smith called Ryan to tell him the Colts were interested and gauge his interest in meeting with them, and the rest unfolded more or less as has been previously reported.
There are still so many questions here we may never see answered—Breer doesn’t even touch on the hammered-out-but-not-executed restructure to Ryan’s deal, we don’t know what teams expressed interest before the Colts, we definitely don’t know who drove the team’s Watson decision or how much effort they put into investigating the claims against him—but the confirmation that the Colts were the only team the Falcons really talked to in any depth and the confirmation of the rough timeline of the trade is still nice to have.
Ultimately, of course, what’s done is done. Ryan landed in Indy and the Falcons are going forward with Marcus Mariota and likely a rookie addition, and the next big news we’re waiting for will apparently be a Jarrett extension. It’s nice to have something to look forward to.