PALM BEACH, Fla. – Grady Jarrett has been a Falcon his entire career. The Conyers, Ga., native has been a top-flight producer over seven seasons playing for his hometown team, with to Pro Bowls and an NFC title to show for it.
He's also only contracted to play one more season for them. Only 2022 remains on a four-year contract originally signed in 2019, his second deal with the organization.
Will there be a third?
That's ultimately uncertain at this time. It's also a major storyline to follow as we move through the offseason and the NFL league year.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith made it clear on Tuesday that the Falcons value Jarrett, who has been an excellent producer and team leader. He wasn't, however, to say anything definitive about Jarrett's long-term future.
"I'm not going to predict that I 100 percent know," Smith said during the NFC coaches' breakfast here at the NFL owners meetings. "He knows where we stand. We love Grady. We also know that players may have their own opinions, and that's welcome. It's part of doing business. We'll see how it plays out. I love Grady and we'd love to keep coaching him."
Getting a contract extension done this offseason could also create salary-cap space in 2021 -- Jarrett currently counts $23.8 million against this years cap, per OverTheCap -- to help the Falcons add talent this offseason. It could also spread his contract's impact into seasons where they'll have significant cap space. Those aims were achieved earlier this month with the Falcons extended Jake Matthews' contract. That could happen again with Jarrett. If, of course, a deal is reached.
More guaranteed money and stability would be perceived benefits for Jarrett, though short-term struggles while the team purges dead cap space in 2022 and then adds needed talent to the roster could be a possible negative.
Terms and fit have to work for both sides if a pact is to be reached.
Smith wouldn't delve into private conversations he and Jarrett have had over the offseason, but the Falcons clearly appreciate and value what he does for their defense despite not having a dominant statistical year, as he has had in previous campaigns, during his first season under Dean Pees. His size doesn't make him an ideal scheme fit, but that doesn't bother Smith when pondering his long-term future in this Falcons defense.
"But he can still be productive," Smith said. "You factor a lot of things in."