Every year we watch as NFL quarterback salaries keep rocketing up higher and higher. It wasn’t too long ago that Mike Vick had a blockbuster contract that averaged under $14.5 million per year. Now even aging game managers are getting well into $20 million. Alex Smith was traded from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Washington Redskins, where he will play for an average of $23.5 million per year. Even middling talents like Derek Carr are pulling in over $25 million per year.
The most relevant comparison here is Matt Stafford, the owner of a $135 million contract averaging $27 million per year. That deal, being last year, is guaranteed to be outdone by the very next big name quarterback deal. The salary cap is expected to go up as much as $11 million this season, and Ryan’s agent is certainly going to push for that increase of Stafford’s deal. Some are already predicting Kirk Cousins could get nearly $30 million per year, and there’s no good reason for Ryan to take any less.
Cap website Spotrac has already taken a stab at his expected value, and they guess Cousins comes in above Stafford.
Over the past few seasons, top QB contracts have reflected a little over 16% of the league cap (Stafford, $27M/$167M). Using this math, Kirk Cousins’ contract should fall in around $28.6M per year.— Spotrac (@spotrac) January 31, 2018
Since this comes up every single time a player is up for a contract extension, the Falcons don’t have any realistic options at replacing Ryan. The Falcons could trade him, and then be left with soon-to-be 37 year-old Matt Schaub at quarterback. Atlanta is drafting way too late to have a shot at any franchise quarterback in the draft, and fall in the range of Andy Dalton and Derek Carr quality. They could sign Cousins, who, again, will probably require a similar deal.
Or you could just complain about how Tom Brady takes a below market deal to play for the New England Patriots while preparing for Ryan to get paid $30 million per year.