Grady Jarrett

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.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Falcons, Saints

While previous reports have indicated the Buccaneers plan to retain Gerald McCoy, the veteran defensive tackle may actually not be safe, especially given head coach Bruce Arians‘ most recent comments to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s not as disruptive as he was four years ago,” Arians said. “But he’s still pretty disruptive. He’s still a good player….I got to evaluate him. I mean, guys at a certain age, it’s different. Usually, the age they get paid the most and production (doesn’t) match. We’ve got to find that out.” McCoy, 31, ranked fourth among defensive tackles with 21 quarterback hits in 2018 and finished as the NFL’s No. 28 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus. He’s signed through 2021, but Tampa Bay won’t incur any dead money by releasing McCoy (and would save $13MM against the cap).

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Buccaneers had interest in edge rusher Brandon Copeland before he re-signed with the Jets, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets. Tampa Bay ranked 28th in the NFL with 31 sacks a season ago, so the club can certainly use some extra help in getting pressure. However, the Bucs have already signed Shaquil Barrett to a one-year deal, so Copeland could have been viewed as redundant. Copeland. who also drew interest from New England, Washington, and Detroit, only landed one year and $1.25MM from New York, so Tampa Bay could have probably outbid Gang Green if it had serious interest.
  • Franchise-tagged defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will be a “Falcon for life,” team owner Arthur Blank told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Atlanta will control Jarrett through at least the 2019 campaign after franchising him, but that will come at a heavy cost: $15.209MM, a figure that makes Jarrett the NFL’s sixth-highest-paid interior defender. Jarrett, who has started 44 games over the past three years, will likely target an average annual value closer to Fletcher Cox‘s $17.1MM and a full guarantee package in excess of $50MM. Atlanta currently has less than $5MM in available cap space; an extension for Jarrett would lower his 2019 cap charge and increase the Falcons’ available funds.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis will no longer be involved in running the NBA’s Pelicans, reports Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com (Twitter link). Loomis, who’s been the Saints’ GM since 2002, took over as the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations in 2012. However, there was reportedly some concern within the Saints’ franchise that Loomis was being “spread too thin,” according to Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk. The Pelicans are in the process of hiring a new GM, one who will report directly to Saints/Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.
  • Nick Easton‘s four-year deal with the Saints is worth $22.5MM but contains only $4MM in guaranteed money, tweets Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune, who adds Easton received a $2MM signing bonus. As Mike Triplett of ESPN.com suggests (via Twitter), Easton’s deal is essentially a one-year deal with a series of options in 2020 ($5MM), 2021 ($6MM), and 2022 ($7.5MM).

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.