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Falcons create $10.9M in cap space with Grady Jarrett extension

The Falcons signed star defensive tackle Grady Jarrett to a three-year extension on Tuesday. We break down the contract details as well as the impact on Atlanta’s salary cap in 2022 and beyond.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

One of the biggest remaining dominoes of the 2022 offseason finally fell on Tuesday, with the Atlanta Falcons signing star defensive tackle Grady Jarrett to a three-year contract extension. His new deal will keep him in Atlanta through the 2025 season and will actually create a significant amount of cap space in 2022. As you’ll see when we get to the contract details shortly, this looks like a very good deal for one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL.

In summary, the extension created $10.9M in salary cap space for the Falcons in 2022 by converting most of Jarrett’s $16.5M base salary into signing bonus. That money should cover the remaining costs of this season without the necessity to make any more moves, clearing the runway for Atlanta to focus on training camp. Obviously, there are still other routes to create additional money—most notably, trading LB Deion Jones post-June 1st—but they’re no longer required.

Let’s dive in to the details of Grady Jarrett’s three-year contract extension.

Grady Jarrett contract details

2022: $12.928M cap hit ($10.9M savings)
2023: $20.625M cap hit
2024: $20.375M cap hit
2025: $20.375M cap hit

All in all, this is a very reasonable deal for Jarrett—who could have demanded north of $20M/yr in new money. Instead, Jarrett accepted $17M/yr in the three-year extension from 2023-2025. The 2023 base salary of $16.5M is fully guaranteed, but after that, the remaining base salaries in 2024 and 2025 are not guaranteed. That means that Jarrett could be easily cut for significant savings in either of those offseasons—$12.1M savings in 2024, and $16.2M savings in 2025.

There’s no other way to slice it: it appears Jarrett accepted a team-friendly deal for below-market value. That’s a far cry from the rumors that he might have wanted out of Atlanta in search of a contender, or more money. This new contract makes Jarrett the 8th-highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL, which seems fair right now. But he’ll quickly be pushed down the list by new signings and could find himself in the late teens as early as 2024.

For full contract details and a summary of Jarrett’s career earnings, check out Spotrac’s information below.

As the extension lowered Jarrett’s 2022 cap hit by $10.9M, the Falcons now find themselves officially sitting at a whopping $14.467M in salary cap space, per Spotrac. That’s sufficient to cover their draft class, a mid-level veteran addition or two, and enough “emergency” money to take into the season.

For reference, the draft class will cost approximately $5M to sign under the top-51 rule, and the final two contracts after the top-51 rule will cost $1.8M or so. I’d also expect Atlanta to keep $3-5M in reserve for in-season signings due to injury. That leaves the Falcons with between $2.6-4.6M for possible veteran signings—enough for a mid-level starter, or perhaps a few depth pieces.

Also keep in mind that there are a few contracts Atlanta could move on from to create additional space, like Kendall Sheffield ($2.5M savings) and Keith Smith ($1.3M savings). It seems likely that both of these players will be competing for jobs in camp, with Smith a favorite for the roster. Sheffield’s status, however, is up-in-the-air, and the potential savings could cause the Falcons to lean towards cheaper or more proven depth options.

I’m excited to have Grady Jarrett back in the fold for the foreseeable future, and it’s also nice to have a little more cap flexibility. All-in-all, this looks like a terrific contract by Terry Fontenot—and we should also thank Grady for agreeing to such a team-friendly deal.