ATLANTA – The Atlanta Falcons are preparing to dive headfirst into the 2019 offseason with free agency and the draft quickly approaching, but there are two major priorities to sort out before they do.
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is set to become a free agent this offseason, and the Falcons would like to prevent that from happening by reaching an agreement on a new deal. There are also ongoing talks with Julio Jones' camp about a contract extension after the team revised his current deal prior to the start of last year's training camp.
"Once the Super Bowl is over and we can look at it, those are the two that will be important," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "They're going to set the tone for how we continue into free agency of course.
"Priority is to jump into focusing on Grady and trying to get that taken care of, and then move towards Julio, of course. And then we have some other guys, and then obviously looking to free agency as well. We just need to start honing in on our finance situation and see where we are."
The Falcons have made it a priority to take care of the players they've drafted and developed, so it's no surprise to see those two names at the top of the list.
A fifth-round draft pick for the Falcons in 2015, Jarrett has been a productive player on the field and a rising leader off of it since arriving in Atlanta. In his four NFL seasons, Jarrett has recorded 179 tackles, 40 quarterback hits, 31 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks.
The team has been negotiating with Jarrett and his representatives for quite some time, and Dimitroff said they will pick up those conversations following the Super Bowl. While the Falcons' GM expressed confidence that Jarrett will remain with the team, he did explain there was still talking left to be done.
"We've had conversations, a number of conversations," Dimitroff said. "We still have a ways to go, of course, but again, we're confident he's going to be here for years to come."
While Jarrett has been an effective interior penetrator for the Falcons, Dimitroff explained that he and coach Dan Quinn were going to determine between the two of them just how valuable they believe he is to the team. That appears to be the position they will be negotiating from.
"I think we're just going to be really focused on what we think that he is to our organization and make the call between myself and Dan on it, ultimately," Dimitroff said of Jarrett.
As it pertains to the discussions with Jones, Dimitroff is optimistic that an agreement will be reached on an extension. The Falcons re-structured Jones deal prior to the 2018 season with the assurance the two sides would once again discuss an extension this offseason.
A six-time Pro Bowler, Jones is coming off of one of the best seasons of his NFL career. Jones caught 113 passes for a league-leading 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018, proving once again to be one of the top players at the position.
"We had a great discussion towards the end of the season," Dimitroff said. "Again, we're really confident that's going to be done. We're both in a great place and talked to [agent] Jimmy Sexton about it as well."
Below is a list of key dates for the 2019 NFL offseason:
- NFL Scouting Combine: Feb. 26 – March 4
- Deadline to designate franchise or transition players: March 5
- New league year and free agency begin: March 13
- Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheet: April 19
- 2019 NFL Draft: April 25-27