Atlanta Falcons: Grady Jarrett in it for the long haul

Grady Jarrett is one of the NFL’s best interior defenders and now the Atlanta Falcons have the young standout performer locked up for a few years.

Is it possible to have a bright spot on a defensive unit that allowed the fifth-most total yards in the league and on a team that allowed a whopping 423 points and 49 offensive touchdowns? Of course there is and the proof lies in Atlanta Falcons’ four-year defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.

Set to test free agency this year, the 2015 fifth-round pick from Clemson received the dreaded franchise tag this offseason. And up until recently, it looked like the 6’0”, 305-pound interior presence would be playing for $15.209 million in 2019 – the tender that he signed nearly three months ago.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Monday’s 4:00 p.m. ET deadline of signing franchise players to long-terms deals as the Falcons locked up Jarrett to a four-year, $68 million pact, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

As Pro Football Focus (subscription required) points out, the four-year pro has been a very solid performer and especially efficient on third down. And his production in terms of getting to opposing quarterbacks has increased each year he’s been in the league.

As a rookie in 2015, he played in 15 games, made two starts and finished with 24 tackles and one QB trap. A year later, Jarrett racked up three sacks in 16 contests. He proceeded to turn himself into a household name in Super Bowl LI, when he corralled Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady three times.

In 2017, he finished with four sacks and this past season, he rolled up 52 stops and posted career bests in sacks (6) and forced fumbles in only 14 games. But perhaps the beauty of the Falcons getting this deal done now lies in what Schefter had to say about Jarrett, who turned 26 years old on April 28.

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Head coach Dan Quinn and his team are hoping to once again look like the defense that finished ninth in the NFL in total yards and rushing yards allowed in 2017. A year ago, injuries played a major role in the Falcons’ defensive demise. But the signing of Jarrett to a new deal may be the best news this unit has gotten in quite some time.

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