ATLANTA — Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett signed his franchise tender on Monday, securing a fully guaranteed salary of $15.209 million for the 2019 season.

That's the good news for the Falcons.

On the down side, the club must still come to terms with Jarrett on a long-term contract, as a dual means of preserving his talents for the foreseeable future ... and lowering the D-tackle's salary cap figure for 2019 and beyond.

Both parties have until July 15 to strike a long-term pact. 

If that date passes, Jarrett would be powerless to renegotiate an extension until after the 2019 campaign; and Atlanta would remain among the bottom-five teams with salary cap space

(According to Spotrac, a pre-eminent Web site for tracking NFL salaries, the Falcons rank 30th in available space, at just $2.738 million.)

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Adding to the consternation, if Jarrett were to sign a second franchise tender next spring, his cap figure would increase by $4 or $5 million, and right now, the Rams' Aaron Donald – the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year – stands as the only defensive tackle with an average annual salary of $20 million

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is already on record, saying the club wants to sign Jarrett to an extension.

According to Spotrac.com, six other defensive tackles possess long-term deals averaging $15 million or more (Aaron Donald, Fletcher Cox, Geno Atkins, Kawann Short, Gerald McCoy, Jurrell Casey), a likely negotiating starting point for Jarrett's representation.

For what it's worth, OverTheCap.com and Pro Football Focus have projected Jarrett for a five-year, $82.5 million deal, with $46 million guaranteed

Spotrac, in turn, has a five-year projection of $76.2 million.