In an offseason full of big-ticket quarterback negotiations, talks between Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons had the least amount of drama. Ryan's five-year, $103.75 million contract extension, as reported by NFL.com's Ian Rapoport on Thursday, was just a matter of time.
Ryan was the face of the franchise the minute general manager Thomas Dimitroff selected the quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft. The Falcons were convinced right away Ryan was the right pick, and they knew it for sure after just a few regular-season games.
We could have told you back in 2008 that Ryan would be with Atlanta for a very long time. That's why Ryan, Dimitroff, coach Mike Smith and owner Arthur Blank didn't seem too concerned about Ryan's contract this offseason.
The Falcons never were going to let Ryan play out his contract year, like Joe Flacco did with the Baltimore Ravens last year. There was no need for drama because there was no disagreement about Ryan's value. Unlike Flacco, Ryan has been a very consistent player throughout his regular seasons. Ryan has been the better player on balance throughout his career, and he took a significant step last season. We still believe Ryan has a better chance than Flacco long-term to carry a team on his back.
Rapoport reported that Ryan receives $59 million guaranteed and $63 million in the first three years. That puts him right near the top of the quarterback pay grade over the next three years, although his per-year average over the next six years overall comes in below Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees (but ahead of Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo)
Ryan's financial place in the quarterback hierarchy sounds about right, but diving deep into the numbers is missing the point. This contract is more about one of the most stable, successful franchises in football.
The Falcons never even had back-to-back winning seasons before Ryan arrived. Now they've had five consecutive winning seasons, with the same coach, GM and owner. Ryan ultimately is the guy leading the way. That's worth a lot.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.