Thomas Dimitroff didn’t mention Aaron Donald by name, but he will be one comparable in negotiations with Grady Jarrett that will continue in earnest after the Super Bowl.
The Falcons general manager will get a good look at Donald, the Rams’ All-Pro defensive tackle, from owner Arthur Blank’s private suite when Los Angeles and New England play in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. The Falcons have stated, on several occasions, that signing Jarrett, their own star defensive tackle, to a contract extension is the top priority of the offseason. Dimitroff did so again Thursday.
“We will kick off our conversations after the Super Bowl and continue to work on it,” Dimitroff said. “We’ve had a number of conversations. We still have a ways to go but we are confident he’s going to be here for years to come.”
Donald was the highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL this season, with an average salary of $22.5 million after signing a six-year, $135 million contract in August. He paid big dividends by leading the NFL with 20.5 sacks.
Jarrett is set to become a free agent after completing his fourth season. The fifth-round draft pick made $1.9 million last season. He had six sacks this season and has 14 in his career. The sides tried to reach on a contract extension before last season, but were unsuccessful.
The question facing the Falcons now is how closely they compare Jarrett to Donald.
“We won’t struggle to find a comparable,” Dimitroff said. “We are just really going to be focused on what we feel he is to our organization and make the call based on myself and (coach) Dan (Quinn), ultimately, and decide where we are going to settle on.”
Dimitroff also, again, stated that signing All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones to a new contract is the other offseason priority. Dimitroff said there was a positive conversation with Jones at the end of the season and that those talks will pick up after the Super Bowl. He added that once the Jarrett and Jones deals have been set, the franchise will have an idea of its financial situation moving into free agency and the draft to fill roster holes. The holes notably include the offensive and defensive lines. Quinn and Dimitroff were vocal in their post-season assessment that the offensive line is a major issue.
Don’t look for the Falcons to devote significant money in free agency to address their problems.
“I don’t think necessarily we need to make a whole bunch of bold moves,” Dimitroff said. “I think we have some really good football players on this team. We have a very good coaching staff and a head coach who knows how to get the most out of everyone. We have some regrouping to do on a number of different areas, of course. I don’t necessarily think that means dropping a ton of money in free agency. I think there is a draft out there that can be very beneficial to us potentially on both sides of the ball. Front-wise you can acquire in the draft as well. We will be very manageable and mindful about how we are going to be approaching free agency. We are not just going to throw money at it for the sake of it.”
In other news:
» Dimitroff said the team continues a search for a game/clock management coach. The team named Kyle Flood to the position after a series of coaching moves that included the firing of all three coordinators following the season. However, Flood then left to become offensive line coach for Alabama.
“Dan is in the market right now,” Dimitroff said. “He has a really definitive understanding of what he’s looking for.
» After attending the Senior Bowl last week, Dimitroff said the team focused on offensive and defensive lineman. He added that secondary also was a strong group.
“Left there feeling really good about some of the bigs,” Dimitroff said. “We call them the bigs, the big blockers and the big stoppers.”