When New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees signed his record-breaking deal this week, it lit up the eyes of every other quarterback in the league. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is entering into the last year of his contract, which means – thanks to Brees – he could be looking at his own big raise soon.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has made it a practice to re-sign players to contract extensions in the last year of their deals if they plan on retaining them, and I don’t think there are any doubts Atlanta plans on keeping their franchise quarterback.
And while Ryan doesn’t quite have Brees-like clout within the Falcons organization, his past performance and importance to the team will certainly give him some bargaining chips to play with.
How much of a raise Ryan gets if he does get an extension this season is now going to be the big question. With huge paydays that included massive amounts of up-front money this off-season for Brees as well as Denver Broncos new starting quarterback Peyton Manning, the Falcons are going to have to be particularly careful in how they structure any extension for Ryan so as not to upset the delicate balance of their salary cap.
Prior to Brees’ deal being signed, Ryan had been listed as the NFL’s fourth highest paid quarterback in base salary for the 2012 season at $11.5 million, with only Sam Bradford, Michael Vick, and Peyton Manning having higher base salaries.
Atlanta was seemingly bumping their heads on the cap ceiling this year, until making several roster moves to free up some space, as well as receiving a $3 million cap credit from the NFL from the Michael Vick contract dispute.
Ryan has posted a 43-19 record in four seasons with the Falcons since being drafted with the third pick in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft, and has led Atlanta to the playoffs in three of his four seasons, but is 0-3 in post-season play.