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Will Matt Ryan be the next beneficiary of a new contract with the Falcons?

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After Devonta Freeman, he’s a logical choice.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons-Minicamp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With Devonta Freeman’s extension done, the Falcons have most of their star players locked up for the near future, which is truly excellent. There will be a wave of contract extensions coming up after the 2018 season, and the Falcons will need to decide what to do with their free agent class after this season, including $10 million man Dontari Poe. That means the Falcons may want to free up some money, particularly if the cap doesn’t soar the way we’d anticipate.

One of the logical ways to do that is to extend Matt Ryan, reigning MVP and franchise quarterback, to mitigate his cap hit in 2018 and immediately beyond. It’s a possibility that Ryan and the team have clearly communicated about.

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure had a piece yesterday about this very topic. Ryan has a $23.75 million cap hit for 2017 and a $21.65 million cap hit in 2018, though just $2.4 million of that would be dead money if the Falcons cut Ryan, which they’re never going to do. They’re also not going to let him get to free agency, so Ryan is (rightly) not overly worried about the status of his contract.

"I'm never worried too much about that," Ryan recently told ESPN regarding his contract situation. "I've always tried to let the business people handle the business and for me, just try and take care of what I can control, and that's playing good and preparing the right way. And I've always felt like if you do that, the business side of it will take care of itself."

The Falcons, however, have a lot more to gain by getting this resolved next offseason, especially if Poe shows out and the team wants to bring him back. The likelihood that they’ll be working with plenty of cap space should not deter them from locking up their franchise guy for the long haul and adding even more space, especially because the window to contend is firmly propped open at the moment, and should remain so over the next 3-4 years. Ryan’s key to all of that for many reasons, and thus, you should expect to hear his contract being discussed often no later than spring 2018.