Just before the beginning of the first day of training camp, the Atlanta Falcons agreed to a contract extension with Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan worth $103.75 million ($59 million guaranteed). The deal averages out to $20.75 million per year.
This deal comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following the Falcons this offseason, as this contract has been in the works for quite some time now. The Falcons didn’t want the potential uncertainty of Ryan’s future to be a distraction going forward. The team and Ryan himself never had any doubt that this deal would get done.
Ryan said of the contract, “I was confident that it was going to get done in a timely fashion. I think both sides were.”
Ryan now joins Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford as quarterbacks who received contract extensions exceeding $100 million this offseason.
Ryan went on to add, “I’m really excited to have this done… and to start worrying about what’s important, and that’s preparing ourselves for the 2013 regular season. “
Now the question is, what does this contract extension mean?
First off, it means that the Falcons view Ryan as an elite QB, the face of their franchise, and their clear-cut leader moving forward. The Falcons have believed this about another quarterback before giving him a $100 million contract, and it ended rather badly. No matter how good the new guy is, you’d still have a bit of anxiety about shelling out that kind of cash to another quarterback after a fiasco like that. It has to be an encouraging sign that they had no reservations about doing it again (Here’s to it working out this time).
Also, it means Ryan is not Joe Flacco. The most recent Super Bowl MVP was going into a contract year last season when he decided to end preseason contract negotiations with the Baltimore Ravens. He stated in an interview that he was “elite”, and he decided to bet on himself and weigh his options the following offseason. Now while that clearly didn’t turn out to be a distraction, it shows you a slight difference in personality between the two oft-compared signal callers. Flacco’s decision to use his on-field play as a bargaining chip clearly worked out for him. Ryan, on the other hand, showed that he had no interest in going any place else, which should work out for him also.’
Lastly, it means that the Falcons should have a little more cap space this season to bring in another veteran. Ryan’s deal carries a hefty price tag, but when a new deal is finalized and an expiring contract comes off the books, there is usually some initial cap relief. While there has been no word on the cap hit of Ryan’s new deal to date, I’d imagine (as it’s often the case) that there would be some dollars vacated for the 2013 season. This would open the door to restart contract talks with Richard Seymour or another veteran to beef up the defensive line.
In any event, this deal definitely puts the Falcons in good position moving forward.
“To Mr. Blank, I can’t thank you enough. It’s awesome.”—Matt Ryan