The Atlanta Falcons are about to signal to their fans and the entire league what the plan is for next season and the next couple of years. The Falcons’ cash crunch should make some moves, while difficult, the no-brainers that have to be made. No, not Matt Ryan, but the second-highest-paid player on the team Grady Jarrett must be traded. According to at least one NFL analyst, this trade could be in the works.
This is tough, the son of the hammer, the legendary Falcons’ Ring of Honor great, Jessie Tuggle has been a fantastic player for the franchise and good for the community. Drafted in the fifth round, 137th overall in 2015, Falcons fans have watched him grow and develop into an elite-level player. But it’s time to let this Falcon fly away.
Money Talks and the Atlanta Falcons Don’t Have It
Who has the Falcons’ highest base salary? It’s not Ryan, it is in fact Jarrett. The 28-year-old is makes $16.5 million, which is $250,000 higher than Ryan’s base pay. The overall cap hit for Jarrett is just under $24 million or 11.5% of the team’s salary cap. Is he worth that kind of money? Yes. He is considered one of the best defensive linemen in the game, but he isn’t paid that way. In one year’s time, he will be getting a pay raise. As an unrestricted free agent, he will simply be too extensive to fit on the Falcons’ books.
If Atlanta’s general manager, Terry Fontenot, doesn’t move him now, he will lose him after next season for nothing. However, there has to be another team that wants to take on that player who they know only has one year left under contract. That could move the appetite down for a shopping general manager, who is unlikely to pay with a top draft selection. The asking price for Jarrett is unknown, but realistically it couldn’t be in the first round of the draft.
Trade Must be Made with a 3-5 Year Plan
With Ryan’s contact on the books for another two seasons, an agreement that takes up nearly a quarter of the team’s salary cap, the plan has to build beyond those two years. Jarrett could fetch the team a couple of draft picks that would turn into players ready to pick it up a notch when Ryan’s contract is off the books and this team can spend on some quality free agents.
If Jarrett does get traded this offseason it will be to a contender and he will do well for himself, the following offseason he will do very well with a fresh contract and significant raise. If everything works out, perhaps he is traded back to Atlanta in a few years when the team has developed into a contender and is making a legitimate run at the championship. You know the old saying, if you love someone, set them free; if they come back to you, it was meant to be.