The Falcons Building Blocks series is a week-long series of stories that focuses in on certain talent that will be counted on throughout the course of the a transitional 2022 year in Atlanta, and beyond.
Last year, Scott Bair authored this series, and he had certain requirements and marks the five players on this list must his. They had to be on a rookie contract. They had to be 27 years old and younger. They had to be thriving already, "with leadership qualities and potential for even better down the road." Though this list follows a similar pattern, there are no such requirements for my list.
I'm looking at players the Falcons can build around, regardless of age, overall status or contract details. The Falcons are in the process of setting a foundation. Who can be the core pieces of said foundation? You can't talk about fundamental players without talking about Grady Jarrett.
By Tori McElhaney
Grady Jarrett is the final inclusion of the 2022 building blocks list, and he diverges from the requirements set by the four others on said list. Everyone else? They're young, by NFL terms. They're still on their rookie deals.
Jarrett is not.
He's established. He's a productive veteran. He's been a leader of this team for years. He's well past his rookie deal. So, why is he included?
It's because he's not going anywhere any time soon.
- Falcons sign second round draft pick to rookie deal
- Falcons Building Blocks: Kyle Pitts, AJ Terrell, Chris Lindstrom, Drake London
- Finding the Falcons rookie class: Drake London, Arnold Ebiketie, Troy Andersen; Desmond Ridder; DeAngelo Malone, Tyler Allgeier, Justin Shaffer, John FitzPatrick
One of the biggest moves the Falcons made this offseason was signing Jarrett to a contract extension, keeping him in Atlanta until after the 2025 season.
There was thought in restructuring Jarrett last offseason, extending him instead of trading Julio Jones. The Falcons needed to sign their 2021 draft class, and they got to the point where the only options they had to be able to do so was to make either of those things happen. We know what they decided: To trade Jones to Tennessee. And Jarrett's contract was left untouched as this coaching staff decided how they felt about him.
Jarrett's reputation as one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game precedes itself. But there was also a thought (from the outside looking in) that perhaps Jarrett wouldn't fit Dean Pees' scheme. Wouldn't Pees want someone bigger, for lack of a better word?
No. No Pees wouldn't.
A year later, there's likely no bigger fan of Jarrett's than Pees.
"There wasn't anybody happier on this planet than me when he signed," Pees said this summer. "I really hope that he has the opportunity to be a Falcon forever. Being in Baltimore where Ray Lewis was the face of the franchise on defense, I think Grady is that to us. He's the perfect pro. He's everything you ask for as a coach in a player. The way he practices, the way he plays, everything. Having a guy like that with not only his talent but the type of man he is, it's so important to us and our unit. I couldn't be happier that he got that thing extended."
It may be a lengthy quote to read, but it is vitally important in this context, because it accurately describes what Jarrett is to this team and this organization. This quote speaks for itself.
This quote is why Jarrett is included in this list.
If you haven't noticed Jarrett's importance on this team, you haven't been paying attention.
With Jarrett here for the long haul, it's about getting him some help on this defensive front. The challenge for the Falcons in 2022 is now: OK, you've got him. Free him up.
When Jarrett is freed up he's dangerous, and the Falcons need Jarrett dangerous now and in the long-term. They've secured him for that very reason.
The temperatures may be hot outside, but our team is cranking up the heat at practice this week as they wrap up OTAs.
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