Grady Jarrett

NFC Notes: Zeke, Buckner, A. Smith

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is definitely considering a holdout, though Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reports that Elliott has not yet made up his mind one way or another. However, Robinson acknowledged earlier today (via Twitter) that the situation could go sideways fast. He writes that the club has discussed an extension for Elliott for a month or so, but those talks have not progressed in any meaningful way, so Elliott is now exploring his options.

Critically, Robinson notes that Elliott must report to training camp by August 6 in order to get a fourth accrued season towards free agency and preserve his right to hold out next summer if he so chooses. That reality gives Dallas a little more leverage, but Robinson also reports that the two sides are still working towards an agreement and that Elliott’s toying with the idea of a holdout has not yet strained the relationship between player and team.

Elliott and his camp will take this week to assess his options. If Elliott agrees to report on time, perhaps the team will assure him that it will prioritize an extension for him before the regular season. To date, a new deal for Elliott has not been on the top of Dallas’ to-do list.

We rounded up some NFC notes earlier today, and now we’ll dive into more items from the National Football Conference:

  • Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com says that Grady Jarrett‘s 2019 salary cap number will shrink to $11MM as a result of the extension he signed today. That will give the Falcons just shy of $11MM in cap space, which will help them sign Deion Jones to a new deal (Jones’ $1.45MM 2019 cap number will almost certainly go up if and when the club inks him to an extension of his own).
  • The last we heard, the 49ers and DeForest Buckner had not made much progress in extension talks, and Joel Corry of CBS Sports says that the contract San Francisco gave to Dee Ford after acquiring him via trade could be complicating Buckner negotiations (Twitter link). The club is set on using a team-friendly structure just like it always does — and just as it did with Ford — and it will not change its M.O. for Buckner, which is surely a sticking point for 2016’s No. 7 overall pick.
  • Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports that Redskins QB Alex Smith was able to shed the external fixator that had been keeping his leg in place since the horrific injury he suffered last year, an injury that has put his playing career in serious jeopardy. But Smith is committed to returning to the field, and this is a big step in his recovery.
  • Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise may be a release candidate, but Seattle head coach Pete Carroll says the oft-injured tailback is very much in the mix for a roster spot. Carroll said, per John Boyle of Seahawks.com, “[Prosise] has been fit throughout, he’s really strong, worked out really hard in the offseason to get his strength right, and his weight is up, but he’s fit and has really been able to do a little bit of everything. So to add him into the competition is really nice. So we’re fired up about C.J. being back.”

NFC Notes: Jarrett, Peterson, Seahawks

The $42.5MM guarantee in Grady Jarrett‘s contract is essentially a full guarantee. While the Falcons defensive tackle officially received $38MM guaranteed at signing, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports he also has a $4.5MM injury guarantee that turns into a full guarantee on the third day of the 2020 league year. Jarrett is almost certain to receive all $42.5MM. The $38MM figure represents the second-highest full guarantee a team has given to an interior defender, with Jarrett’s deal trailing only Aaron Donald‘s ($50MM fully guaranteed) in that department. So, the zero-time Pro Bowler (but well-regarded lineman) made out well on deadline Monday.

Part of that guaranteed amount is an $18MM signing bonus, with Florio adding Jarrett will earn $6.5MM in base salary in 2019 and $10.5MM in 2020. Of Jarrett’s 2021 and ’22 salaries, only $4.5MM is guaranteed. His 2022 $16.5MM salary is non-guaranteed, and the structure of this contract looks like it will make it fairly easy for the Falcons to cut bait after 2020 if the investment proves poor.

Here is the latest from around the NFC, shifting from the Falcons to teams that do not open camp this week:

  • Part of the reason Patrick Peterson requested a trade last season stemmed from the changes the Cardinals were making on defense. Their switch from their long-used 3-4 look to a 4-3 did not go well, and Peterson was not happy with how far the team fell since the 2015 NFC championship game. “I mean, honestly, what happened last year, it was a lot of turn of events,” Peterson said during a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview (via the Arizona Republic). “Especially being one game removed from going to the Super Bowl, and getting new coaches, getting new staff, a new scheme, when you’re so used to playing in a 3-4, and you felt that it was good for the players that you had on your roster. So, it was just a lot of whirlwind going on last year and I was just frustrated.” Fully backtracking on last year’s trade demand, the eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback recently said he wants to be a Cardinal for life.
  • The Jarrett deal looks like good news for Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes. Reed’s representation will be pointing to Jarrett’s deal as the floor for Reed, Joel Corry of CBS Sports said in the piece. The Seahawks have identified Reed as an extension candidate after his breakout 10.5-sack 2018. Reed statistically outperformed Jarrett in 2018, registering 24 quarterback hits in addition to his sack total. While Corry adds he does not believe Reed will sign for what Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones does, he adds the longer the Seahawks wait on this front the more a 2020 Reed deal — with a Jones pact factored into the equation — could cost them.
  • Bobby Wagner‘s deal will likely take precedence over Reed’s, Condotta continues. The Seahawks have more than $23MM in 2019 cap space and, as of mid-July, stand to hold more than $75MM in 2020. They do not have a bevy of pricey defender contracts on their 2020 cap sheet, with both Wagner and Reed in walk years, so the team will have to determine how it wants to allocate resources. Wagner is still believed to be targeting more money than C.J. Mosley received ($17MM AAV) on the open market.

Falcons, Grady Jarrett Agree To Extension

Barely an hour away from this year’s deadline, the Falcons and Grady Jarrett have a new deal in place. Jarrett agreed to a four-year, $68MM deal to stay in Atlanta, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

Momentum built in the past 24 hours on the Jarrett front, and he becomes the second franchise-tagged player to agree to an extension Monday. Robbie Gould and the 49ers agreed to terms earlier today, leaving only Jadeveon Clowney without a deal. Jarrett, 26, has been a full-time starter for the Falcons since his second season. He would have made $15.2MM this year on the tag.

Jarrett’s $17MM-per-year average is well off Aaron Donald‘s benchmark for defensive tackles, but considering the disparities between the interior defenders’ profiles, that was to be expected. However, agent Todd France got his client on the same level as four-time Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox, whose 2016 extension averages $17.1MM annually. Jarrett is now NFL’s third-highest-paid interior defender.

Jarrett will receive $42.5MM in guarantees, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This total places Jarrett fifth among interior defenders — behind Donald, Cox, J.J. Watt and Kawann Short.

Although Jarrett has zero Pro Bowls in four seasons and just 14 sacks in that span (not counting his three-sack Super Bowl LI), the Falcons have long acknowledged the former fifth-round pick’s immense value to their defense. Jarrett produced 15 tackles for loss in 2017 and graded as a top-10 interior defender last season, per Pro Football Focus. He registered a career-high six sacks and 16 quarterback hits in 2018.

Arthur Blank said earlier this year he wanted Jarrett to join Julio Jones and Deion Jones as “Falcons for life.” The team has secured a key item off its offseason checklist and can now turn its attention to the Joneses.

This continues a productive offseason for franchise-tagged performers. Jarrett, Gould, Donovan Smith, Dee Ford, DeMarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark agreed to extensions after being tagged in March. Clowney, who has already played a fifth-year option season, is set to play yet another year without a long-term agreement in place.

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Hope For Falcons, Grady Jarrett Extension?

Could the upcoming deadline spur action for the Falcons and Grady Jarrett? A new deal for the defensive tackle was said to be unlikely, but there’s now some hope that a long-term deal can get done before 4pm ET/3pm CT, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears.

Jarrett has been vocal about his desire for a new deal. He abstained from much of the Falcons’ offseason activities, though he reported for the Falcons’ mandatory minicamp in June along with receiver Julio Jones.

If Jarrett does not secure an extension on Monday, the Falcons will not be able to sign him to a long-term contract until the season is over. After that, they will have the option to employ the franchise tag for the second straight year, though it would come with a 20% increase and the risk of irritating one of their defensive stars.

If Jarrett stays on the $15.2MM tag, he’ll carry the third-highest cap hit in 2019 among defensive tackles, putting him behind only Aaron Donald ($17.1MM) and Kawann Short ($17MM).

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Latest On Falcons, Grady Jarrett

The Falcons and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett are unlikely to reach an agreement before the franchise tag extension deadline, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com hears (on Twitter). If that is indeed the case and nothing is signed today, Jarrett will play out the 2019 season on his one-year, $15.35MM tender. 

[RELATED: 49ers Sign Robbie Gould To Extension]

Jarrett’s six sacks in 2018 were impressive for an interior lineman, but he’s shown that he has even more to offer. Last year, Jarrett tied with Michael Pierce for the No. 5 spot on Pro Football Focus’ rankings for defensive tackles. Over the course of 463 pass rush snaps and 245 run defense snaps, Jarrett proved that he is one of the best at his position.

A new deal for the 26-year-old likely would have given the Falcons some additional breathing room this year, but they’re also working on new deals for wide receiver Julio Jones and linebacker Deion Jones. It’s a delicate balancing act, though owner Arthur Blank had said he expects all three players to be “Falcons for life.”

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Latest On Falcons, Grady Jarrett

The key news cycles involving 2019 franchise tags have centered around edge rushers, with DeMarcus Lawrence signing an extension and the Chiefs trading their own tagged edge rusher (Dee Ford) and acquiring the Seahawks’ (Frank Clark). Jadeveon Clowney, whom the Texans discussed with the Chiefs, may now go another year without a long-term deal. 49ers kicker Robbie Gould has also requested a trade.

Not as much as transpired on the Grady Jarrett front, but we are less than 24 hours from this year’s deadline for tagged players to sign extensions. As it stands now, talks between Jarrett and the Falcons have been “cool,” per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But Ledbetter notes the sides have not given up hope, adding this situation could still heat up between now and Monday’s 3pm CT deadline.

Arthur Blank has said he wants Jarrett to be a “Falcon for life,” but the owner has used that phrase regarding contract-year standouts Julio Jones and Deion Jones. The Falcons still have some significant business to conduct and hold just $6.5MM in cap space. Jarrett’s franchise tag takes up $15.2MM of Atlanta’s cap.

The Falcons and Jarrett’s agent, Todd France, continue to discuss a deal, Ledbetter writes. But the team may be cautious about entering the territory of fellow France interior defender clients Aaron Donald ($22.5MM AAV) and Fletcher Cox ($17.1MM AAV). France will likely view those contracts as relevant for his Falcons client, CBS Sports’ Joel Corry writes. Jarrett (14 career sacks, no Pro Bowls) has not proven himself to be on those perennial Pro Bowlers’ level, perhaps leading to the gap in terms and Thomas Dimitroff conceding the sides may have to revisit negotiations after Jarrett plays this season on the tag. After Cox, Geno Atkins and Kawann Short — each making just more than $16MM a year — represent the next-highest-paid group of interior defenders.

It would certainly behoove the Falcons to finalize a deal with Jarrett, in order to reduce his 2019 cap number and thus help the team work out deals with the Joneses. Jarrett signed his franchise tender in April and reported to minicamp.

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Julio Jones, Rest Of Falcons In Camp

Led by star receiver Julio Jones, all players who did not attend Falcons OTAs arrived for the first day on minicamp, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets

That list includes the recently franchise-tagged Grady Jarrett, defensive end Vic Beasley and linebacker Deion Jones.

In addition to arriving for mandatory minicamp, Julio Jones is not worried about his contract and is sure a new deal will get done, ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes.

“The situation will get handled. It’s just a matter of time when they’re going to do it. Mr. Blank has spoken, so what more do I need to say or talk about?” Jones said.

McClure notes that in addition to a reworked deal for the pass-catcher, the Falcons also hope to sign Jarrett and Deion Jones to extensions. In addition to Julio not worried about his deal getting done, Falcons owner Arthur Blank sounds just as confident.

“I’m not worried about getting the deals done. I’m speaking on behalf of Atlanta and Atlanta fans. [General manager] Thomas [Dimitroff] is working hard to get them done. Coach [Dan] Quinn is supportive, as well. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when,” Blank said.

Though he did arrive at the three-day minicamp, Julio will not be participating due to a foot injury. Jones is coming off his fifth consecutive 1,400-yard campaign and led the league with 1,677 receiving yards in 2018.

Latest On Falcons’ Extension Candidates

For a second straight offseason, the subject of Julio Jones‘ contract has been a key offseason Falcons talking point. But next week, the All-Pro wide receiver will be with the team when it conducts its minicamp.

Dan Quinn confirmed (via The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz, on Twitter) the ninth-year receiver will show for minicamp, which begins June 11. So will fourth-year defensive end Vic Beasley. It is not yet certain if franchise-tagged defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will join them, though Quinn anticipates he will. Skipping mandatory minicamp would cost the trio nearly $90K each.

Regardless of the statuses of Jones, Jarrett and fellow extension candidate Deion Jones, the Falcons expect to re-sign all three. He did not specify a plan for Beasley, who joined the group in staying away from Falcons OTAs.

We have a salary cap. We have limits that we have to think about not only today but tomorrow, and we have to balance all that off,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “But these are three great young men that we care deeply about, both personally and professionally. They are going to be Falcons for life.

I’m not worried about getting the deals done. I’m speaking on behalf of Atlanta and Atlanta fans. Thomas [Dimitroff] is working hard to get them done. Coach Quinn is supportive as well. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when.”

A new deal for Jones has been rumored for weeks now, and it will almost certainly make the 30-year-old receiver the league’s new highest-paid player at the position. Two seasons remain on the five-year, $71.25MM extension he signed in 2015. Jarrett is tethered to a $15.2MM franchise tag. Jones would have the most to gain by signing an extension before the season. The former second-round pick’s rookie deal pays him just $1.45MM. The Falcons picked up Beasley’s fifth-year option (worth $12.8MM) last year.

The Falcons, though, are light on cap space ($6.5MM, the fifth-lowest figure at the moment), so it will take some work to fulfill Blank’s vision.

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NFC South Notes: Little, Falcons, Grayson

The Panthers traded up in the second round of the 2019 draft to land Ole Miss offensive tackle Greg Little, and as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes, Carolina’s left tackle job is seemingly Little’s to lose. The Panthers deployed Taylor Moton on the blindside last season, but GM Marty Hurney‘s preference is to have Moton play right tackle. Daryl Williams is still in the mix for a spot on the right side of the line, but the club appears prepared to pencil in Little as its starting LT, which would make the rookie a key figure in the Panthers’ 2019 fortunes.

Now for more from the NFC South:

  • The Falcons have until July 15 to work out a long-term extension with franchise-tagged defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, but GM Thomas Dimitroff recently conceded that Jarrett may play out the 2019 campaign under the tag, which suggests that the two sides still aren’t particularly close on a new contract. Dimitroff said (via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), “I’m confident that something will get done one way or the other. If it doesn’t, we have a year to continue to talk about it.”
  • The Falcons‘ starting safety tandem of Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, who are recovering from major injuries that ended their 2018 seasons prematurely, are both expected to be at full strength by the time training camp begins in July, as Ledbetter notes in a separate piece.
  • The Saints tried out former LSU track star Cyril Grayson yesterday, as Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune tweets. Grayson has spent time with the Seahawks, Colts, and Bears, but he has yet to see regular season action.

Grady Jarrett Signs Franchise Tender

One key piece of Falcons business wrapped up Monday. Grady Jarrett signed his franchise tender, the team announced.

The fifth-year defensive tackle is back in the fold and now attached to a $15.209MM salary. This may be the prelude to an extension. While nothing appears to be imminent, this is a good sign for those prospects. The Falcons have just more than three months to finalize an extension with Jarrett.

Arthur Blank said recently he views Jarrett as a “Falcon for life.” The sides were not close on a deal prior to the March deadline to apply franchise tags to players, but this situation now certainly seems like one of the least acrimonious of all the tagged performers in 2019.

One of the league’s top interior defenders in recent years, Jarrett will likely want a deal that either approaches or surpasses Fletcher Cox‘s. The Eagles gave their standout defensive tackle a $17.1MM-per-year extension in 2016, when the cap resided at $155.3MM. The 2019 league year features a $188.2MM cap, pointing Jarrett’s representation to surely seek to top that pact. Although Jarrett has no Pro Bowls on his resume, he is coming off a career-best six-sack season. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 interior defender in 2018.

The Falcons hold just $2.62MM in cap space. A Jarrett re-up would increase those funds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.