How will Jimmy Garoppolo’s massive payday and the need to keep Atlanta’s young core together impact Matt Ryan’s upcoming contract extension?
In 2013, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan signed a 5 year, $103,750,000 contract that made him one of the league’s highest paid players and locked him in Atlanta through the 2018 season.
Fast forward to now, where Ryan has just one season left on this contract.
Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff stated that signing Ryan to a contract extension is the team’s number one offseason priority, trying to ensure that Ryan remains a Falcon throughout the remainder of his career.
The biggest question surrounding the extension? Obviously the price tag.
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Since Ryan signed his last deal, he’s posted a 95.7 regular season quarterback rating, won three playoff games, and was named league MVP in 2016.
All of these point to a big payday for the veteran signal caller.
“Matty Ice” has plenty of reasons to demand a large contract.
He’s engineered 27 fourth-quarter comebacks and 36 game-winning drives in his career. Ryan has lead the Falcons to six of their 14 playoff appearances in franchise history, including their second ever Super Bowl appearance in 2016.
Before Ryan was drafted by the Falcons, Atlanta had never put back-to-back winning seasons together. Ever.
Not only did he do that, but he also posted five straight winning seasons to start his career and has done so in seven of his ten seasons.
Let’s just say, he’s more than deserving of a big pay day.
However, Falcons owner Arthur Blank has other ideas.
"In an article recently written by D. Orlando Ledbetter, Blank stated that, “We want to treat Matt well,” but also stated, “But we also have to balance it out and make sure we have enough salary to keep the other critical parts on the team around. You don’t win with one player. It’s not like golf. It’s the ultimate team sport, and you’ve got to have other pieces around him.”"
Blank was mainly referencing the young, emerging stars who are still on their rookie contracts. This includes standouts Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Tevin Coleman, Takkarist McKinley, Grady Jarrett and others.
In the near future, these players will be off their rookie deals and demanding more money. Blank wants to give the Falcons the best chance of resigning these players by keeping Ryan’s deal at a reasonable price.
However, Jimmy Garoppolo’s recent signing may throw off Blank’s plans. Garoppolo, despite only having seven career starts, signed to a 5 year, $137.5 million dollar contract with the 49ers. This makes him the highest paid player in the league on a per-year average ($27.5 million per year).
The question Matt Ryan and his agent have to be asking is: If a guy with seven career starts can get that type of money, then how could you pay a former MVP and top-tier quarterback anything less?
This puts the Falcons front office in a difficult position.
"Of course, Blank understands that Ryan is deserving of a big contract. Blank stated that, “He (Ryan) expects to be treated well and respectfully, and he should be. We expect out of him to work with us in a way that the franchise is in the best position to ensure that there is other talent around him.”"
Atlanta fans are hoping that Ryan takes a “hometown discount”, putting the team in position to be successful for years to come.
If Ryan’s contract averages anywhere from $20 million to $25 million per year, consider it a win for the front office. That would keep Matt in the upper half of quarterback salaries, but also wouldn’t decimate Atlanta’s salary cap.
But don’t expect him to take a discount. As he shouldn’t. Ryan is one of the best in the business, and should be rewarded with a big contract.
Ryan’s camp has leverage to demand a higher salary because of the Garoppolo contract. Matt has earned an annual salary in the neighborhood of $25 million to $28 million, and wouldn’t be shocking to see. Let’s just hope his contract gets done this offseason so Ryan can focus on bringing the city of Atlanta a Super Bowl ring this season.