Grady Jarrett signed his $15.2 million franchise tag

Falcons Grady Jarrett reacts as the Chargers sudden death field goal clears for a 33-30 victory over the Falcons in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Falcons Grady Jarrett reacts as the Chargers sudden death field goal clears for a 33-30 victory over the Falcons in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta.

Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett signed his $15.2 million franchise tag on Monday, the team announced.

The team was not close to reaching a long-term deal with Jarrett.

In order to retain Jarrett’s rights and block him from becoming an unrestricted free agent when the new league year started on March 13, the Falcons placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on him on March 4.

The franchise tag price for defensive tackles was set at $15.209 million, the average of the top five paid players at the position. The Falcons will continue to negotiate a new contract with Jarrett until July 15.

“As we have said since the end of the season, getting a deal done with Grady is our priority,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said recently. “Applying the franchise tag to him does not change that in any way. Our aim is for Grady to be an integral part of our plan for many years to come and this allows us to extend our negotiating window.”

Actually, the Falcons said re-signing Jarrett, 28, was a priority after the 2017 season, but they couldn’t reach a deal.

The Falcons have sparingly used the franchise tag on position players. The team put tag on cornerback Brent Grimes in 2012 for $10.28 million after the failed to reach a long-term deal. Before Grimes, they used to return punter/kickoff specialist Michael Koenen in 2009 for $2.4 million.

Jarrett’s value is very high after a stellar four years after he was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft. and have projected that Jarrett is  worth a five-year, $82.5 million deal with $46 million guaranteed. Spotrac has a lower  five-year $76.2 million projection on Jarrett.   

Jarrett had 52 tackles, six sacks, 16 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles and eight tackles for losses last season.

Jarrett’s rookie contract was a four-year, $2.527 million deal signed with the Falcons on May 8, 2015.

Jarrett has played in 61 games and made 46 starts. He’s made 179 tackles (95 solo) with 14 sacks, 31 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and 40 quarterback hits.

During Super Bowl LI, Jarrett tied an NFL record with three sacks against the New England Patriots. Since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, three other players have posted three sacks in the Super Bowl — Darnell Dockett, Kony Ealy and Reggie White.

Owner Arthur Blank, acknowledged that while some player contracts are getting more lucrative, he still believes that Jarrett and wide receiver Julio Jones will be “Falcons for life.”

Rams tackle Aaron Donald re-set the defensive tackle market with a six-year, $135 million deal, which had a $40 million signing bonus and $86.8 million guaranteed. The deal reached last year averaged $22.5 million per year.

The issue with Grady is likely how close the Falcons feel they need get to Donald’s deal.

Donald, who was drafted in the first round, had 29 sacks over his first four seasons. Jarrett has 14 sacks over his first four seasons.

The Falcons are also renegotiating Jones’ deal, which is projected to lead to a $20 million per year salary.  The two sides are close to a deal.

“They are both great players, both Grady and Julio,” Blank told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently. “They both will be Falcons for life. I feel pretty good, comfortable and confident in saying that.”

Subscribe to "The Bow Tie Chronicles" podcast with the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter on iTunes or on the new AJC sports podcasts page.