Falcons QB Guaranteed $100M in Record Deal
The next domino in this offseason’s quarterback extensions has fallen. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan reportedly agreed to a five-year $150 million extension with the Falcons on Thursday. Not only does the deal fully guarantee Ryan $100 million, it also makes him the first player to have an average annual salary of $30 million per year. This deal now makes Ryan the highest-paid player in NFL history.
Ryan’s extension has been a major topic of discussion surrounding the Falcons this offseason, as well as the league at-large. With guys like Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins raising the bar by which all franchise quarterbacks are measured in terms of salary, it was only a matter of time until Ryan pushed the bar even higher. Ryan was entering into the final year of his contract in 2018. Now he will be under contract with the Falcons until 2023, likely making him a Falcon for life.
In 2017, the Falcons finished with a 10-6 record, good for third place in the NFC South. Despite finishing in the lower half of their division, the Falcons still made the playoffs as the NFC’s sixth seed. In the Wild Card Round, Ryan and the Falcons went into Los Angeles and shut down the high-powered Rams by a score of 26-13. In the Divisional Round a week later in Philadelphia, the Falcons were a goal-to-go series away from a trip to their second consecutive NFC Championship Game, falling to the Eagles 15-10.
By most accounts, Matt Ryan took a step back in 2017. In 16 starts, he passed for 4,095 yards with 20 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions, a stark contrast to his MVP season in 2016 (4,944 yards, 38 TDs, 7 INTs). A lot of that regression in statistical performance has been summed up to less-than-stellar receiver play: in 2017 the Falcons led the NFL in dropped passes. Another oft-cited explanation is 2017 being the first season under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
Despite all of this, Ryan and the Falcons avoided a serious Super Bowl hangover by returning to the postseason. Ryan also became the fastest player to reach 40,000 career passing yards, throwing for 4,000+ yards for the seventh straight season. One more win will also give Ryan 100 career wins, regular and postseason combined.
This deal will now reshape all future extensions given to quarterbacks. It was hardly a surprise, but the numbers are still gaudy nonetheless. Time will tell when other veteran quarterbacks, such as Aaron Rodgers, will continue to raise that number. For now, though, the Atlanta Falcons will be heading into the summer with the league’s highest-paid player. Add that to a very productive draft (Calvin Ridley, anyone?) and the city of Atlanta has reason to be excited for 2018.
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