The Atlanta Falcons made a mistake by signing starting quarterback Matt Ryan to a contract extension on Thursday. Signing quarterbacks to ludicrous extensions has been all the rage in the NFL this offseason, as Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford all signed extensions with their current teams, but the Falcons did not make a smart move by jumping on the bandwagon and locking up Ryan for another half decade.
The first reason why this is a mistake is timing. The Falcons are a team that’s getting old and their window to make a serious run at a Super Bowl is nearly closed, if it isn’t already with last year’s NFC Championship Game loss to the up-and-coming San Francisco 49ers, a younger and more talented team. Atlanta has had a nice run over the last five seasons with Ryan at quarterback and Mike Smith as the head coach, but they have just one playoff victory over that span. This could be their last chance to be serious contenders in the NFC, so it may not make much sense to commit right now to a quarterback for the long run.
Another reason why this is the wrong time to sign Ryan to an extension is the mold of NFL quarterbacks may be in the midst of changing to a mold into which Ryan doesn’t fit. If quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III continue to excel, athletic quarterbacks will become more prevalent in the NFL and further take over the league, leaving the Falcons stuck with a pocket passer like Ryan while having to compete in the NFC against teams with stellar young signal-callers like the three previously mentioned.
Furthermore, Ryan has yet to prove that he is one of the elite pocket passers in the league. He has led the Falcons to over 50 wins and two division titles during his five-year career, but he has delivered just one playoff win. One postseason win in five years, regardless of the impressive statistics Ryan has put up during that time, is not enough to commit five more years to a quarterback.
The Falcons would have been wise to wait longer before committing to Ryan. He may have the best wide receiver tandem in the league at his disposal, but after the 2013 season, Atlanta will have a lot of work to do in rebuilding the rest of the team, which may not make competing for a spot in the Super Bowl feasible for a few years. Also, they still don’t know if Ryan is capable of carrying them to the Super Bowl, and they don’t know if Ryan is the type of quarterback on which they should be relying to take them there.
Just because four other teams signed their quarterbacks to extensions doesn’t mean it was the right time for the Falcons to do it too. Whether or not Ryan deserved the extension is still debatable, which means it’s unknown if this was the best move for the Falcons in the long run. Timing is everything, but the Falcons just made the wrong move at the wrong time.