The Falcons are making moves to clear up cap space and lock up priority players ahead of the start of free agency, and the latest move is a big-money three year extension for Jake Matthews.
We’ll see how much money they save this year with the deal, but per NFL insider Ian Rapoport, it’s $52.5 million over the first three years of the new contract with a “new money” average of $18.5 million per year.
The #Falcons and LT Jake Matthews have agreed to terms on a 3-year extension, sources say. He gets $52.5M over the first three years. New money average of $18.5M and it gives ATL some much-needed cap space.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2022
Matthews, a one-time Pro Bowler who is heading into his year 30 season, has been the team’s most reliable offensive lineman essentially since he was drafted in the first round way back in 2014. He’s currently 24th in team history in terms of games played and will, if he plays a full 17 game season again, end 2022 17th there. Only Bob Whitfield and Mike Kenn have played more games at tackle for this franchise than Matthews.
He’s missed just one game since by drafted—in his rookie season— and has delivered seasons that have ranged between above average and great. The Falcons clearly still view him as a building block along an offensive line that doesn’t have nearly enough of them, and this deal both helps them free up some cash to spend this season and helps keep one of the team’s most durable and reliable players in the fold.
While there’s always healthy debate about just how good Matthews is, there’s no point in quibbling that he’s one of this team’s best linemen. The Falcons are only truly set at left tackle and right guard, where Chris Lindstrom is fresh off a killer season, and with uncertainty at three positions on the line there was little question this team was going to retain Matthews on Matt Ryan’s blind side. This tells you that they’ll plan to have Matthews locking down the left side into Ryan’s final seasons and/or protecting a rookie quarterback, which tells you they think he’ll age gracefully.
We’ll see if an extension for Grady Jarrett is on the way, as well, but congratulations to Matthews for the new deal and may he be a high-end starter for the life of the contract and beyond.