Grady Jarrett

Falcons Use Franchise Tag On Grady Jarrett

Grady Jarrett will not be reaching the market. The Falcons will retain their standout defensive tackle via the franchise tag, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

The Falcons have said for months they hoped to keep Jarrett in the fold, and this tag — worth $15.209MM — will allow them to keep working toward that goal. No deal is imminent, however. The Falcons have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement with their soon-to-be 26-year-old interior defender.

This is the first defensive tackle among 2019 free agents-to-be to receive a tag, but fellow pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney, DeMarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark are being retained by their respective teams. So is Dee Ford. Jarrett would have been in line for a monster payday on the market, but the tag will still provide the 2015 fifth-round pick with a substantial raise.

One of the league’s top interior pass rushers, Jarrett is best known for his three-sack performance in Super Bowl LI. He has 14 career sacks, also forcing three fumbles last season.

Falcons, DT Grady Jarrett Not Close To Deal

The Falcons may be forced to use the franchise tag on Grady Jarrett. D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the defensive tackle and the organization are “not close to reaching a new contract deal.”

The deadline to place the franchise tag on a player is March 5th. If the Falcons don’t agree to an extension with Jarrett by that time, the team may have no choice but to tag the defensive lineman. Otherwise, the team would have to let the 25-year-old hit free agency, at which time he could garner a number of lucrative offers.

As Ledbetter notes, the team may struggle to afford Jarrett’s franchise value. The franchise tag for defensive tackles is $15.21MM, and that would take up the majority of the Falcons’ $22.3MM in cap space.

The Falcons have made it clear that they want to retain Jarrett, with general manager Thomas Dimitroff telling Ledbetter that the organization is focused on getting a deal done. Head coach Dan Quinn had similar thoughts, and he indicated that the team may be willing to franchise the lineman.

“I would say it’s definitely on the table to discuss really thoroughly, but we’ll have to wait until to then to see if a deal can be done first,” Quinn said. “The good news is…that our team and Grady’s team can have good conversations about things that hopefully we can keep working towards some common ground that would be right for both sides.”

The 2015 fifth-round pick has established himself as one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. Despite playing in only 14 games in 2018, he still had his best statistical season, compiling 52 tackles, six sacks, and three forced fumbles. Pro Football Focus ranked Jarrett fifth among 112 eligible interior defenders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons May Tag Grady Jarrett

Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is set for free agency, but the Falcons don’t intend on losing him. General manager Thomas Dimitroff feels “very confident” that Jarrett will be with the team next year and says the franchise tag is a possibility (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure). 

If tagged, Jarrett won’t necessarily be thrilled. The former fifth-round pick has tallied ten sacks over the last two seasons, including a career-high six sacks in 2018. He’s poised for a big payday and probably prefers a long-term deal to the one-year, $15.35MM tender for defensive tackles.

Jarrett’s six sacks 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.

If Jarrett were permitted to reach free agency, he’d easily profile as one of the ten best players available. But, unsurprisingly, the Falcons won’t let him get there.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Johnson, Redskins, Falcons, Cardinals

One of the best stories of the 2018 NFL season was Josh Johnson. The longtime journeyman quarterback finally got a chance to start his first game since the 2011 season, and immediately sparked the slumping Redskins. The injuries Washington had suffered ultimately proved too severe to overcome, but Johnson still looked pretty good for someone seeing his first live action in seven years who was signed cold off the street. Now, it looks like Johnson could be back with Washington next year.

The team is working on bringing Johnson back, Redskins team president Bruce Allen told JP Finlay of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Word came out recently that the Redskins were expecting Alex Smith to miss the entire 2019 season, so it’s not surprising they’d want to have as many bodies at quarterback as possible. With only Colt McCoy on the roster, it’s not inconceivable that Johnson could have a chance to be Washington’s starter next year.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff again reiterated the team’s desire to lockup defensive tackle Grady Jarrett with a longterm deal this week at the Super Bowl, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ve had a number of conversations. We still have a ways to go but we are confident he’s going to be here for years to come”, Dimitroff said. Jarrett is set to be a free agent this March, but it looks like he won’t ever hit the open market.
  • Speaking of the Falcons, don’t expect them to be big spenders in free agency. Dimitroff said he doesn’t anticipate being that aggressive in pursuing guys from other teams, declaring “I don’t think necessarily we need to make a whole bunch of bold moves.” While he acknowledged that the team has some “regrouping to do” after their disappointing season, he expressed confidence in the group of players currently in the building, and said he doesn’t foresee himself “dropping a ton of money in free agency.”
  • New Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury isn’t just retaining one member of last year’s coaching staff, he’s promoting him. Kingsbury will promote Chris Achuff, who was an assistant defensive line coach on Steve Wilks’ staff last year, to be his defensive line coach, a source told Bob McManaman of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Achuff had been with Baylor for nine years before joining the Cardinals, so perhaps he had some familiarity with Kingsbury from their Big 12 days.

Extra Points: Ravens, Cowboys, Rams, Bills, Falcons

We’ve been hearing mixed things about John Harbaugh for a while now. The Ravens announced they hope to keep the coach longterm with an extension, but rumors have continued to swirl that Harbaugh isn’t willing to commit to Baltimore and that he may want to explore his options elsewhere. Numerous teams have been reported to be interested in trading for the coach, including the Broncos and Dolphins.

We have a new update on Harbaugh today, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports the Ravens have “yet to have any dialogue” with Harbaugh about a new contract. La Canfora writes that the “situation is being watched closely” by other front offices, and that several teams still have hopes of trading for him after the year. If the Ravens have a quick playoff exit, it could increase the chances that the two sides part ways this offseason. It’ll be one of the biggest stories to monitor the next few weeks, and we should know a lot more after the team’s game against the Chargers tomorrow.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Cowboys have a bunch of young players they’ll need to pay soon, and Ezekiel Elliott would like to be first in line. The third year running back has one more year left on his deal after this season plus his 2020 fifth-year team option, but he’d like to be extended this offseason, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). While Rapsheet notes that it “makes sense given his workload”, it’s unclear at what price the team values him. We heard back in November that the team might not be in any rush to extend Elliott, so it will be very interesting to see what the team does here.
  • By gaining more than 1,200 rushing yards, Todd Gurley got a $1MM bonus this season, Rapoport tweets. It brings the total value of Gurley’s extension with the Rams to four years and $58.5MM. Gurley got off to a red hot start to the year and was on pace to break the single season touchdowns record for a while, and while he cooled off a little bit during the second half of the season, he still had another dominant year. He’s been dealing with some knee soreness recently, but should be a full go for the Rams’ playoff run.
  • We also got details on Matt Barkley‘s recent extension with the Bills, that Mike Rodak of ESPN tweeted out. Barkley’s two year deal will pay him $1.25MM in 2019 and $1.5MM in 2020. Interestingly, Rodak notes that the team gave Barkley a $600K signing bonus. Getting that large of an amount of guaranteed money would suggest he has a significant leg up on Derek Anderson in the race to be Josh Allen‘s backup next year. Buffalo signed Anderson to a one year deal earlier this week. The deal also includes active roster and playing time bonuses for Barkley, who showed very well in his one spot start this season.
  • Locking defensive tackle Grady Jarrett up longterm is a priority for the Falcons this offseason, according to GM Thomas Dimitroff, per Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com. “We would like to have Grady back for many years to come”, Dimitroff said. Jarrett was one of the few bright spots on a Falcons defense that regressed mightily this season, and he received elite grades from Pro Football Focus. Jarrett, a fifth round pick in 2015, is set to be a free agent this offseason and should be in for a huge payday.

South Rumors: Irvin, Dez, Fitz, Titans

Bruce Irvin clearing waivers and landing with the Falcons gives him a chance to earn nearly $10MM this season. His one-year (or, eight-game) Falcons deal is worth $1.5MM, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. Irvin was playing on an $8MM salary with the Raiders this season, and Florio notes he can recoup the balance of that salary ($3.76MM) by filing a termination pay claim. Vested veterans (at least four seasons’ experience) can do this one in their careers, and this may be the most money Irvin, 31, can claim through this measure. Total, the seventh-year veteran can collect $9.75MM this season. Considering he entered the year with no more guarantees remaining in his deal, that’s not a bad haul.

Here’s more from the Irvin front, along with the latest from the South divisions:

  • With Irvin rejoining a Dan Quinn defense, this one housing recent first-round defensive ends Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley, he won’t be the unquestioned top edge rusher like he was in Oakland. However, Quinn — who coached Irvin with the Seahawks — is planning a NASCAR package with the three ends and Grady Jarrett, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Quinn said the team will use the trio on the field together in practice this week in preparation to deploy the speed set a game at some point. The Falcons’ 17 sacks rank 27th in the league. Beasley has just one and is Pro Football Focus’ worst-graded full-time edge defender this season.
  • A six-plus-month stay in free agency ended for Dez Bryant earlier Wednesday, but the new Saints wide receiver is still looking to return to the market in 2019. Bryant wants to prove himself on a contending team and become a free agent again, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes. This has been Bryant’s plan all along, and he’ll likely join Tre’Quan Smith as a key complementary receiver for Drew Brees.
  • The Buccaneers won’t be pivoting back to Jameis Winston this week. Dirk Koetter confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine) Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starter in Week 10. Although Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions in a 42-28 loss to the Panthers, he led the Bucs back from 35-7 and made it a one-score game. Tampa Bay ranks first in pass offense (356.6 yards per game) by more than 30 yards.
  • The TitansMalcolm Butler signing hasn’t worked out the way the team had hoped yet. Signed to a five-year, $61.25MM deal, Butler has struggled in coverage and rates as PFF’s No. 98 cornerback through eight games. Mike Vrabel, though, does not plan to bench Butler. The first-year coach attributes some of the defender’s woes to reading the wrong keys, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
  • Tennessee may have to temporarily demote Jack Conklin, though. The right tackle starter is in concussion protocol after the Titans’ win over the Cowboys. Conklin already missed this season’s first four games because of the ACL tear he suffered in last year’s playoffs. Conklin has started five games this year and was on the field for all 32 Tennessee regular-season contests during his first two NFL seasons.

South Rumors: Colts, Saints, Jarrett, Jags

Chris Ballard‘s operational style through two offseasons has the Colts in rebuilding mode. They possess the second-most cap space ($51MM) and are projected to hold an NFL-high $126MM in 2019. However, the Colts are 1-5 and may be set for their worst two-year stretch since the Jim Harbaugh-to-Peyton Manning transition produced six wins between the 1997-98 seasons. Ownership isn’t wavering on the Ballard hire, though, per Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. Ballard’s been intent on building from within, with Keefer pointing out the Colts were never a serious Le’Veon Bell trade contender nor were they going to entertain a Dez Bryant signing. Only one defensive starter, Clayton Geathers, remains from the Ryan Grigson era. Although, especially during T.Y. Hilton‘s absence, the Colts have been reeling at wideout. They let Donte Moncrief walk and didn’t address the position when promising rookie Deon Cain was lost for the season, so the GM deserves some blame for the state of this spot, Keefer adds.

It will be interesting to see if Ballard deviates from his methods when the Colts begin working with that staggering amount of cap space come 2019. Here’s the latest from other South locales:

  • The Falcons will have the services of Grady Jarrett on Monday night against the Giants, Dan Quinn said. The team’s top interior defender missed the past two games because of an ankle injury. This will be key for the Falcons, who have lost several defenders thus far this season, and Jarrett, with the 2015 fifth-round pick being in a contract year.
  • Teddy Bridgewater is also in a walk year, and the timing of the Saints‘ trade to acquire the Jets reserve passer suggests they’ll be interested in attempting to convince the former first-round pick to stay as Drew Brees‘ successor. But next year’s quarterback market doesn’t look to be as strong as this year’s, and Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com doesn’t expect Bridgewater to be with the Saints in 2019. Bridgewater signed with the Jets for one year and $6MM, with an incentive package that can now be classified as NLTBE. Prior to any major cuts, Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor stand to be the centerpiece attractions in the 2019 free agent quarterback class. Katzenstein expects Bridgewater to wait and sign for far more money than the Saints, with Brees still operating in high gear, will be willing to pay him.
  • No quarterback’s taken more sacks than Deshaun Watson (25), and the Texans will be without one of their top blockers on Sunday. Zach Fulton is out for Week 7’s Houston-Jacksonville game. The fifth-year guard is dealing with an ankle injury.
  • The Jaguarstrade for Carlos Hyde seems to suggest they’re concerned about Leonard Fournette going forward, but Hays Carlyon of 1010XL (on Twitter) doesn’t believe the second-year running back endured a setback and expects him to suit up in Week 10 after the Jags’ bye. Fournette’s been dealing with hamstring trouble throughout the season, and Carlyon adds this move was likely more about the Jags’ fear of being shorthanded for much longer rather than Fournette suffering another setback.

NFC Notes: Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Lions

The Packers could potentially be without two starting receivers when they face the Lions on Sunday, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Randall Cobb is dealing with a hamstring injury and worked out with a rehab group during practice today, while Geronimo Allison is in the concussion protocol. If neither pass-catcher can go, Green Bay will be forced to turn to a pair of rookie receivers, Marques Valdez-Scantling and J’Mon Moore. Valdez-Scantling took over slot duties last week while Cobb was out, so he’d probably play there in three-wide sets against Detroit. For what it’s worth, No. 1 Packers wide receiver Davante Adams was listed as limited with a calf injury on Wednesday, but he’s expected to be ready for Sunday’s divisional matchup.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Week 5 presents a good news/bad news situation for the Falcons, as running back Devonta Freeman is expected to return from a multi-game absence while defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will miss Sunday’s game against the Steelers with an ankle injury, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The 1-3 Falcons have scored plenty of points with Tevin Coleman filling in for Freeman, but the latter’s return will nonetheless add another dimension to an already potent offense. Jarrett, for his part, is one of the best players left on an Atlanta defense that has already lost safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal, plus linebacker Deion Jones, for the year. The Falcons rank as a bottom-six defense in yards allowed, scoring, and Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
  • 49ers rookie wideout Dante Pettis has already been ruled out for San Francisco’s Week 5 contest against the Cardinals, reports Matt Barrows of The Athletic (Twitter link). Pettis, the 44th overall selection in this year’s draft, injured his knee on a punt return in Week 4. The Washington product produced nearly 100 receiving yards over the first two games of the season, but hasn’t caught a pass since. Fellow receiver Marquise Goodwin, who’s been hampered by a hamstring ailment all season, didn’t practice today and could also conceivably miss Sunday’s action, meaning Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor, among others, could be in for more looks.
  • Even after fracturing his hand in Week 4, Lions safety Quandre Diggs practiced on Wednesday and should be available for Sunday, as Justin Rogers of the Detroit News writes. Diggs, who inked a three-year, $18.6MM extension last month, has played the second-most snaps of any Detroit defender this season. If Diggs unexpectedly can’t play against the Packers, Tavon Wilson would take over at strong safety.

NFC Notes: Falcons, Seahawks, Cardinals, Lions

The Falcons have had a relatively quiet offseason in terms of additions. They’ve chosen to focus instead on developing their own players and locking them up. They tied up a lot of money on last month’s long awaited Matt Ryan mega-extension. Last month it was reported that Julio Jones wanted an “adjustment” made to his contract. Ricardo Allen is also pushing for a new multi-year deal. To top it all off, GM Thomas Dimitroff recently said the team hopes to sign offensive tackle Jake Matthews to a new contract soon.

Overall, there’s a lot of deals for the Falcons to get done. But despite the long list of Falcons waiting their turn, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett appears to be “next in line” for an extension writes D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jarrett, a fifth round pick back in 2015, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

Jarrett made an immediate impact as a rookie, and sacked Tom Brady three times during Super Bowl LI. He started all 16 games this past season and is a key component of the Falcons’ defense, even more so now that the Falcons let Dontari Poe walk in free agency. Jarrett says he’s not worrying about a new deal and that “at the end of the day, that will work itself out.” Jarrett might not be focused on his contract, but if Ledbetter is right, he should have a new one soon.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Seahawks currently have a crowded running backs room full of well-known names. First round rookie Rashaad Penny seems like the only lock to make the team. Although it’s been speculated that one or more could be cut, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times thinks all five of Penny, Chris Carson, Mike Davis, C.J. Prosise, and J.D. McKissic will make the team.
  • Lions star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah reportedly “dodged” questions about his contract, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. Ansah was franchise tagged back in April, and little progress has been made on a longterm deal since. Lions GM Bob Quinn seemed to hint back in March that the team wasn’t interested in locking Ansah up longterm, and would like to see him play out the year under the franchise tag and prove he can stay healthy. Given the Lions’ reluctance to give him a multi-year deal, it makes sense that Ansah had no interest in discussing his frustration’s with the media.
  • The Cardinals could bring in a veteran wide receiver to be the number two behind Larry Fitzgerald, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. Fitzgerald is entrenched as the number one receiving option, but there’s currently a wide-open competition behind him between Brice Butler, rookie second-rounder Christian Kirk, and potentially J.J. Nelson. Kirk would seem to have the most upside, but if he’s not ready for such a large role as a rookie, the Cardinals could sign a free agent during training camp Urban believes.

Falcons Look To Extend Matthews, Jarrett

Now that Matt Ryan‘s deal has been taken care of, the Falcons are looking to address other players with contracts that are near expiration. The Falcons will now turn their focus towards new deals for tackle Jake Matthews and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, GM Thomas Dimitroff says (Twitter link via Kelsey Conway of the team website). 

[RELATED: Details On Matt Ryan’s Whopping Extension]

Both players are entering their walk years. Matthews, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make nearly $12.5MM after the Falcons triggered his fifth-year option for 2018. The Falcons did not have the same option for Jarrett, a 2015 fifth-round choice, so he is slated to hit the open market after earning $1.9MM this year.

Matthews has a perfect attendance record across four NFL seasons, save for one missed game as a rookie. Last year, the Texas A&M product graded out as the No. 14 tackle in the NFL, per the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, Matthews’ 1,159 regular season snaps was the fourth-highest of any tackle in the NFL last season.

Coincidentally, Jarrett rated as the 14th best interior defender in the NFL last year, per PFF. Last year, he tallied 34 tackles and four sacks while serving as one of the better run-stuffing DTs in the league. It’s safe to say that Jarrett’s next deal will give him a significant pay bump from his rookie pact.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.