With the rising cost of quarterbacks, the Falcoholic has spent months (if not nearly a year) telling readers that Matt Ryan should sign for $30 million per year, average. Like here. And way back in August here. It was going to happen, and quarterbacks cost a lot because you can’t easily replace them. They are also unequivocally the most important player on the entire team, and there is no competition.
Yes, it’s expensive. No, it doesn’t cripple the team, assuming you didn’t sign Joe Flacco to one of the league’s top contracts. Ryan was briefly the owner of the league’s most expensive contract, and the only thing that slowed down the team was Mike Smith.
The Falcons have been so successful that NFL analyst and former player Bucky Brooks heaped praise on the team’s ability to compete while paying Ryan.
There are plenty of ways to build a championship team in the NFL, but the Atlanta Falcons are showing the football world the blueprint for building a title contender around a big-money quarterback. The Dirty Birds just signed Matt Ryan to a five-year, $150 million contract with $100 million in guarantees, rewarding the QB for routinely playing at a high level and keeping the Falcons in steady contention for most of his decade in the league.
Brooks likens Atlanta’s success with the Indianapolis Colts during their Peyton Manning heyday, with Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis all off their rookie deals. Basically, the Colts paid players that helped get the lead, and players that helped keep the lead.
Here’s the trick, though. The Falcons have not only paid Ryan like a franchise quarterback, but they’ve surrounded him with enough A-level talent to allow him to succeed as the bus driver. The team boasts a loaded wide receiver corps, with arguably the best WR1 in the game (Julio Jones) and a talented supporting cast of playmakers on the perimeter (Mohamed Sanu and Justin Hardy) that’s augmented by the arrival of first-round pick Calvin Ridley. At running back, the Falcons have a devastating 1-2 punch: Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are both capable of running through defenses on inside or outside runs or blowing past defenders as crafty pass catchers out of the backfield. Not to mention, the Falcons have routinely upgraded the offensive line to handle the various fronts and pass rushers poised to harass Ryan in the pocket.
It isn’t perfect, but the offense has one of the most talented rosters most teams ever see. While some are still mad about guaranteed dollars, Thomas Dimitroff deserves credit for expertly building an unquestionably elite offense while somehow supplementing the defense. It is crazy to think some writers called for his firing only three years ago.
We all have misses, and that article was my Jalen Collins. Calling Kyle Shanahan a quarterback killer can be my Lamar Holmes, but maybe it will prove out correct.
Most important, notes Bucky, is the success. Ryan has a career 95-63 record and has reached the playoffs in 60% of his seasons. He won one MVP, made it to a Super Bowl, and if the refs were competent, would have made it to another. Roddy White, I will never forget that obvious passing interference.
The Falcons just dished out the biggest contract in NFL history to Matt Ryan, and both parties involved have shown there is no reason for fans to worry.