The day the Atlanta Falcons drafted Matt Ryan become known as the revival of the franchise's current era. A dark cloud hung over the city's head in the wake of Bobby Petrino's depature and Michael Vick's imprisonment, but Ryan restored order and brought about the most successful period in, well, ever for Atlanta. Now, nearing the end of his rookie contract, it's time for him to get paid.
Quarterbacks are becoming more expensive as time progresses. A year ago Drew Brees became the highest-paid player in league history. A month ago Joe Flacco claimed that title. Now Aaron Rodgers is close on their heels.
Green Bay is reportedly moving closer to handing Rodgers five yachts full of money, or something of the equivalent. Jason La Canfora believes Rodgers will become the first to earn $25 million a year, or "damn close to it." That's exactly what Thomas Dimitroff wants to hear.
Even Tony Romo is averaging $19 million per season after Jerry Jones recently handed him six-year extension. Yes, the same Tony Romo who holds a single playoff win under his belt. Gregg Rosenthal thinks the "playoff success" argument is lazy. Well, I like being lazy, Mr. Rosenthal. But, for the sake of arguing, how did Romo fare at the end of 2012 when he had a chance to put the Cowboys in the postseason? Three interceptions, huh? "It's ok, Tony, here's a bunch of money in the hope you lead us to victory some day," Jones said while laughing on his couch made out of $100 bills.
The ultimate point here is you can't escape paying a hefty amount to a franchise quarterback. You can get the deal done at the right time, though, and that time is now for Atlanta.
Remember how the Ravens were close to re-signing Flacco last summer? Negotiations broke down, and he played through 2012 waiting to land a new contract after the season. He led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title and won MVP against the 49ers. That strategy certainly backfired, didn't it? The Ravens would have saved themselves the trouble of making Flacco the highest-paid player.
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Given the Falcons came up a few yards short of a Super Bowl appearance last season, we're anticipating similar success in 2013. If Ryan happens to deliver a championship, Atlanta falls into Baltimore's scenario, giving Ryan a ton of leverage.
The bar is set extremely high for quarterback contracts today. Assuming Rodgers signs an extension soon, the Falcons pressing need to re-sign Ryan becomes more difficult. He doesn't strike me as the money-hungry type, but his agent will do all in his power to get him top dollar. Yes, Ryan deserves a rich contract. He's the face of the franchise. I would rather see him sign now, though, instead of adding to his resume and being able to demand a higher price next year.
In addition, an extension gives Atlanta more cap room to work with right now. The Falcons need a cornerback, more help in the pass rush and a few other needs around the depth chart. Cutting Tyson Clabo opened up the checkbook a bit. Extending Ryan's contract would add to their current amount.
The time is now, Falcons. Ryan's new contract is inevitable. The sooner the better.