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Grady Jarrett should be near top of Colts Free Agency wish list

Minnesota Vikings v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

We all know how critical this offseason is for the Indianapolis Colts if the team hopes to take the next step towards becoming a legit Super Bowl contender. With the Colts holding nearly $110M to work with, it seems almost certain that Chris Ballard will unload some of that to land an impact player on one side of the ball or the other.

When you add that the Colts truly need an upgrade along their defensive line, Grady Jarrett simply must be brought into the conversation.

Jarrett was a fifth-round pick in 2015, and has far outplayed his draft status during his time in Atlanta. Jarrett broke onto the national scene during the 2016 postseason, but his past two seasons have been especially good — combined for over 100 total tackles, 10 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, and 29 QB hits.

Jarrett is a bully in the trenches and has the burst and speed to create havoc. Additionally, he’s a great teammate and public figure, and that is exactly the type of talent the Colts love to target.

Jarrett was the Falcons’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, has been very focused simply on playing and allowing his contract situation to play out naturally despite not being extended after last season, and has the diverse set of tools the Colts would hope to acquire as they continue to shape their roster.

Character and top-end talent? That’s exactly who Ballard wants in Indy. Building the culture, and having the locker room absorb a player, let alone the leadership that he possesses on and off the field? I don’t know if you could find much of a more applicable poster boy for that desire from Ballard.

Naturally, this is going to take big money. First, there’s a solid chance that the Falcons will franchise Jarrett. That price tag, according to Over the Cap, is expected to sit at roughly $15.6M while the transition tag would net him around $12.3M for the 2019 season.

That’s a big hit for the Falcons next year, but they could find more room with a few simple moves if they felt it necessary. For the time being, let’s presume that the Falcons allow Jarrett to test the free agency waters.

We know Ballard takes a frugal approach to free agency, but you have to believe that Ballard would take a stab at a true difference maker if given the chance. At only 26 years old, I don’t think you could ask for a better centerpiece for the defensive line in this youthful Colts defense.

Jarrett is a versatile piece who can play at the nose if necessary, but he’s been extremely successful at the three-technique as well. This bodes well for the Colts to continue the quality run defense they displayed last year, as well as finding an interior pass rusher who can penetrate opposing offensive lines to disrupt ball carriers in the backfield.

Sure, the Colts need an edge presence in a big way. They need a legit No. 2 WR to pair with T.Y. Hilton. They also need help on the backend. There are plenty of free agency options for the Colts to consider should they become available.

However, when a piece such as Jarrett becomes one of them, you simply don’t pass it up.