Owner Arthur Blank, acknowledged that while some player contracts are getting more lucrative, he still believes that defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and wide receiver Julio Jones will be “Falcons for life.”
The team placed the $15.2 million franchise tag on Jarrett and has started the process of renegotiating Jones’ deal, which is projected to lead to a $20 million per year salary.
“They are both great players, both Grady and Julio,” Blank told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via phone from the NFL meetings in Phoenix on Tuesday. “They both will be Falcons for life. I feel pretty good, comfortable and confident in saying that.”
Jarrett, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of Clemson, has developed into a fine pro. The franchise-tag price for defensive tackles is the average of the top five paid players at the position.
The Falcons can continue to negotiate a new contract with Jarrett until July 15.
“With Grady, we tagged him, so that gives us more time to work on a pretty complicated deal that makes sense for him and makes sense for the club, the franchise,” Blank said.
Oakland drove up the wide-receiver market by giving new guarantees to Antonio Brown after he forced his way out of Pittsburgh.
By contrast, Jones has been a model citizen.
“With Julio, we’ve been in touch with both Julio and his agent,” Blank said. “We are working on that.”
Brown received a three-year, $50.1 million deal with $30.1 million guaranteed.
The Chiefs were ready to bestow a lucrative contract on wide receiver Tyreek Hill, but that was before the recent investigation into a domestic issue was discovered.
“These deals, the size of these deals today are becoming big,” Blank said. “They’ve always been big, but are becoming bigger, now and you have to work them into a pattern that makes sense in terms of other players that you have coming up.
“So, there is a salary cap. It’s a hard salary cap. We don’t get the chance to spend whatever we want on these players. We have to balance not only what we need for today, but what are our needs for the next couple of years as well.”
Blank didn’t have a timetable for the deals getting completed.
“(General manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) and coach (Dan Quinn) are working very hard together on that and making some really good decisions,” Blank said. “I couldn’t be happier with where we are going directionally.”
Blank also is pleased with the revamped football operation after Quinn restructured his coaching draft and replaced the offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators.
“One of the beauties of coach Quinn is that he’s honest. He’s not honest to a fault because there is no such thing as that,” Blank said. “But I would say he’s extraordinarily reflective and thoughtful. … It goes beyond our personal relationships that we have with all of our coaches and players for that matter, he always puts himself in the position of what’s the best thing that I can do for the franchise and our fans. What are my great obligations?”
Quinn replaced offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian with Dirk Koetter, defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel and special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong with Ben Kotwica. Quinn is going to call the defense himself.
“Sometimes, it means making some very difficult decisions,” Blank said. “Sometimes, difficult decisions require changes. I love the coaching changes he’s made, I love the coordinators that he’s brought back. The coaches he’s brought back and the other changes that he’s made as well.
“I feel very comfortable about the changes that have taken place. They were all for very good reasons.”
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