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Arthur Blank weighs in on Matt Ryan’s next contract

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The Falcons owner stops short of saying the team will make Ryan the highest-paid player in the NFL, but that’s what it may take.

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have already talked all about how important it is to get Matt Ryan a new contract this offseason. The franchise quarterback is coming off a disappointing season that was heavily influenced by a number of freak interceptions, and will be a free agent after 2018. Getting him a new contract gives him financial security and stability on what might be his last or second-to-last big NFL deal, and it gives the Falcons more cap flexibility in the short term, potentially.

It is widely anticipated that the Falcons will need to (briefly) make Matt Ryan the highest-paid player in football, in actual dollars or via some cap trickery, before he’s overtaken by Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers or whoever. The sooner they get the deal done, the better the deal will be for the Falcons, and Arthur Blank suggested the team’s needs have to be a factor in the final deal #2 gets.

Depending on how you interpret this, it’s either a lukewarm statement from an owner hoping to get Ryan to take a discount or a very straightforward statement about the team’s need to balance building a great team with retaining Ryan, which is a statement most teams with franchise quarterbacks would make. I lean toward the latter, but it’s a studiedly neutral statement from Blank, who has to know saying “hell yeah, let’s make him the highest-paid player in football!” would take away any small leverage the Falcons actually have.

At the end of the day, I fully expect this extension to get done. The only real intrigue concerns the dollars and structure of the contract as Ryan rolls through what is likely the back half (or less) of his excellent career.