Atlanta Falcons training camp is less than two weeks away. Franchise quarterback Matt Ryan just came off his best season with career highs in passing yards with 4,719, passing touchdowns with 32, and a completion percentage of 68.2%. He was 4th in the NFL with a 78.4 in Quarterback Rating (QBR), and 5th in passer rating at a 99.1 clip. He also finally won his first playoff game. Ryan has steadily gotten better each year in most categories and has broken the 4,000 yard barrier in passing yards the last two seasons.
He is now in the final year of his initial rookie contract he signed in 2008 and could become a free agent after this year. The Falcons can ill afford to let that happen.
So why haven't Ryan and the Falcons worked out an extension when both parties have insisted that they want this relationship to continue?
More than likely, it comes down to not Ryan wanting too much money, rather it's the current market for these mega quarterback contracts. Four quarterbacks have signed lucrative contract extensions over the offseason. Each of these signings has an impact on Ryan's situation because he is comparable to the quarterbacks who signed these extensions.
It started with Ravens QB Joe Flacco and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers receiving big extensions worth $120.6 million and $110 million respectively.
One could argue that despite Ryan being a stellar regular season quarterback, he doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Flacco or Rodgers due to his inefficiency when it comes to postseason performances. One could play devil's advocate and say that Ryan hasn't had the same support system that Flacco or Rodgers had, particularly when it comes to the Ravens highly touted defense.
The biggest issue is that Rodgers and Flacco led their teams to win Super Bowls due to impressive individual postseason runs. This is something Ryan hasn't done, although he played very well in the playoffs last year overall.
However, two quarterbacks who haven't had nearly the same amount of success or consistency that Ryan has just got serious paydays.
Earlier in the offseason, maligned Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo received a $108 million dollar contract for six years. Romo has just as many postseason victories as Ryan and is five years older. While Romo may throw for more yards than Ryan, he tied a career high 19 interceptions and finished well below Ryan in both passer rating and QBR last year. The Cowboys also had another disappointing season, posting an 8-8 record and missing the playoffs.
Earlier this week, the Detroit Lions just inked a $76.5 million dollar extension with Matthew Stafford. He only has one winning season and has struggled to stay healthy over the course of his career, despite having a cannon for an arm. The Lions still had faith in their strong armed quarterback to offer him a pretty big extension for a guy who has yet to enjoy the consistent success that Matt Ryan has in his NFL career. The Lions finished 4-12 and obviously missed the playoffs, despite Stafford throwing for almost 5000 yards last season.
The Falcons were planning on offering Ryan a healthy extension, but now these two have set the benchmark in terms of contracts for quarterbacks who haven't won a Super Bowl. It has been reported that the Falcons aren't relying on the Stafford deal as an outline. They shouldn't. Ryan posted a higher QBR than Romo, Rodgers, Stafford and Flacco, and only Rodgers had a higher passer rating than Ryan last season.
Bottom line, Ryan wins games, and he's finally broken his playoff curse. He was 13-3 last season and led the Falcons to the NFC championship game. He is 57-26 all time in his career playing the toughest position in football. When you compare Ryan to Romo and Stafford, there is no reason why he shouldn't get a bigger extension.
The Falcons can't win without Ryan. The prolific quarterback is set for another big year with all of his pieces returning, another year of working with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, and will get help from veteran running back, Stephen Jackson. If the Falcons want to make this deal happen, they need to come to an agreement with Ryan as soon as possible. The last thing GM Thomas Dimitroff or Ryan wants is any uncertainty heading into the season concerning their respective futures.
Will Matty Ice receive that big extension? How much do you think it will be worth? Let us know in the comments section.
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Atlanta, Atlanta Falcons, Football, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, NFL, Stephen Jackson, Thomas Dimitroff, Tony Romo