Other than the $30 million Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will receive annual in his new five0-year deal, the contract the former NFL MVP signed means more than just dollar signs for the organization. The deal, announced on Thursday, could have salary cap implications for the franchise in the future.
It also set the bar for other top-tier quarterbacks to cash in huge deals that could break the bank in salary cap hell. When assessing the good and bad of this $150-million deal, the Atlanta Falcons still must prepare for the future.
“Even assuming some genuinely great structuring on the deal, Ryan’s going to cost a lot of money. That’s fine! You absolutely should pay your franchise quarterback,” writes Dave Choate of thefalcoholic.com. “It does mean, however, that the Falcons will continue to need to be creative if they’re going to stave off cap crises and avoid losing quality players. Being able to continually nail the draft will go a very long way, as it has over the last few seasons.”
Much like the Jacksonville Jaguars have been successful in redesigning contracts to suit the need to sign veterans and free agents this offseason, will general manager Thomas Dimitroff have the same kind of success? Will other veterans who are pertinent to the success of the team work out “cap friendly” deals? Will Atlanta be able to keep its core of talent in place over the next five seasons?
There are some positives in making a deal like this work. As Choate points out, the Falcons locked up the best quarterback in franchise history, a player who was the league MVP two seasons ago and who had a better year than his numbers a year ago would suggest. Given that $100 million of the new deal is guaranteed, who other than Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers will get a bigger deal and get paid more than a Brinks truck can hold?
The Falcons are a franchise that may only have a short window, give by the end of the deal Matt Ryan will be 33 years old and the state of the roster may change in time, as all teams do. Ryan could be a very good quarterback for a few more years, so “win now” may be the approach the organization takes. Having everyone on the same page is important as the Falcons figure to be a playoff and Super Bowl contender once again in 2018.
“That continuity is important for any number of reasons, but most of all because the Falcons are still bristling with weapons, and Ryan is entering his second year in Steve Sarkisian’s offense. This offense should be primed to explode in 2018 in a way they wouldn’t be if they were trotting out, say, a rookie or Matt Schaub,” Choate wrote.
Frank Schwab of Yahoo.com took on the same approach of good and bad in this new deal. He asked if Matt Ryan was even worth the money thrown at him. Based on the market, Ryan was the next in line to get a huge money deal with plenty of guaranteed cash.
“As quarterback contracts exploded even further with Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins resetting the bar this offseason, Ryan was bound to get an eye-popping deal. It’s not like the Falcons could afford to lose him,” he wrote.
Both Cousins and Garoppolo signed deals this offseason as if they were elite quarterbacks. Cousins is in Minnesota, hoping he is the final puzzle piece to a Super Bowl run with the Vikings. Garoppolo is the next Steve Young, as some would say, hoping to help the San Francisco 49ers rise from the ashes of subpar performance.
There are two levels of pay in the NFL. The quarterback and everyone else. Among the top contracts in the NFL, on an average per-year basis, the top 17 are all quarterbacks, according to Spotrac. Also, that does not factor in future deals for Carson Wentz of the Eagles, Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams and Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys.
Based on the events of the past 24 hours, the Matt Ryan deal could force the team to make some hard decisions in handing out contracts in the future. Will De’Vondre Coleman and Tevin Coleman be shown the door because the franchise cannot financially keep them, or will everything balance out? This is a win for the Falcons’ organization at the moment, but the ramifications for the future may help the team in the long run.