The Falcons surely hope to avoid being called “dumb” by Matt Ryan’s agents next year. Of course, if being dumb means winning the Super Bowl, the Falcons would gladly wear the dunce cap.
For now, the posture between Ryan and the team that made him the third overall pick in the 2008 draft is identical to last year’s contract standoff between the Ravens and Joe Flacco. Ryan has a year left on his deal, both sides want to extend the contract, but an agreement has not been reached.
For now, Ryan bears the risk of injury and ineffectiveness. If Ryan makes it through 2013 unscathed, the Falcons will have to choose between giving him market value, using the non-exclusive franchise tag (which exposes him to being pilfered by another team in exchange for two first-round picks), or the exclusive version of the tag (which could cost nearly $20 million for 2014 and unlock a year-to-year formula that would put the Falcons well north of $70 million for three years).
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, casual talks currently are occurring, with an expectation that things will heat up after the July 4 holiday.
Ryan has a $12 million cap number for 2013. A long-term deal often drops a player’s cap number, but if Ryan is going to be paid at or near the top of the market (i.e., somewhere between $16 million and $20 million per year), it’s unlikely that the cap number will be any lower than $12 million in 2013. Which means that a long-term deal for Ryan likely won’t create additional cap space for a potential contract with Richard Seymour.
The real question is whether Ryan (a CAA client) wants to be paid like Drew Brees (a CAA client) or Tony Romo (a CAA client) or somewhere in between. Brees is getting $20 million per year. Romo’s deal, as a practical matter, is worth $16.375 million over four years or $15.9 million over five.
Looming in the background is Matthew Stafford (another CAA client), whose cap number already is above $20 million.
As more and more franchise quarterbacks become the highest-paid player on their respective franchises, the questions constantly will be: (1) how much is enough?; and (2) how much needs to be left behind to have a competitive team?
That’s why Ryan needs to ask himself, along with whether he’s willing to roll the dice and walk away from whatever the Falcons put on the table now, in the hopes of getting them over a barrel later.