I think it’s a foregone conclusion that at some point in the next six or seventh months the Falcons will sign a long-term extension with quarterback Matt Ryan that makes him one of the highest paid signal callers in the NFL.
If the Falcons can get a deal done with Ryan prior to the start of free agency on March 12, it could free up much needed cap space. Ryan is set to count $12 million against the Falcons cap this year. Given the nature of large contracts that are heavily backloaded, it likely means that cap figure will decrease dramatically in the first year of Ryan’s deal. We’re talking about perhaps $6 million the Falcons could reap immediately. Given how tight the Falcons cap situation is, that $6 million could really come in handy when it come to re-signing their own free agents or signing guys from other teams.
Ryan will likely be joined by Super Bowl MVP and impending free agent Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens and Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys in terms of getting brand new contracts this off-season. What is interesting is that Ryan and Romo share the same agent, Tom Condon.
Flacco’s agent Joe Linta made headlines a year ago discussing that he believed his client was then a Top 5 quarterback, which most laughed at. Well a year later now his client is sporting some serious bling, and he certainly has the last laugh. It is now expected that Linta will seek to make his client the highest paid quarterback in the league.
The player who currently holds that title is another Condon client by the name of Drew Brees. Brees signed a five-year deal that averaged $20 million last year with $60 million guaranteed, including $40 million paid at the outset.
When the Falcons drafted Ryan in the final years of the whopping rookie contracts, they gave him a deal that averaged $12 million a year with roughly $35 million guaranteed, then the highest ever given to a quarterback. The following year, No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford got $50 million guaranteed on a deal that average $13 million a year. That was followed up in 2010 by Matt Stafford’s contract that averaged about $12 million and had $42 million guaranteed, but also included an additonal $17 million option bonus paid in the second year which was not technically guaranteed, but about as close as you can get. By the way, Condon also represents both players.
Another Condon client, Peyton Manning signed a five-year deal with the Broncos last March that averaged $19 million per year with guarantees that will reach $60 million assuming Manning doesn’t fail a physical between now and March.
I’m trying to illustrate the landscape in which Ryan comes in for his future contract negotiations. Ryan has more regular season wins than any other quarterback in the last five seasons with 56. In fact, that is the most ever for any quarterback in NFL history in his first five seasons. That is certainly going to be a point that Condon makes during negotiations. Flacco isn’t far behind him with 54 regular season wins, but throw in his 9 postseason wins, it pushes him to 63 total over the past five years, the most in the league.
But Ryan isn’t far behind when you factor in postseason success, tying with Aaron Rodgers for 57 total. That outpaces Brees (56 total), Tom Brady (53), Ben Roethlisberger (53), Eli Manning (52), and Peyton Manning (51). Again, these are going to be key points for Condon in negotiations.
Brees was 33 when he signed his deal, and Manning was 36. Ryan will be 27 or 28 when he signs his deal. His current success coupled with his age that assumes continued success in the future is going to cause Condon to seek deals that exceed those of his two previous clients.
So it all brings us back to the question of whether this will help the Falcons get a deal done with Ryan sooner rather than later in order to reap the immediate cap benefits.