Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan signed a lucrative new deal with the Falcons before last season and then ran the offense as the team tumbled from the NFC Championship Game to a 4-12 record.
Ryan’s culpability for the slide ranked well below injuries, an ineffective offensive line and other things, but the nature of the quarterback position means that his role still came up for discussion. Specifically, whether Ryan was worth the investment for a team that found itself with a lot of work to do around him when it came to building a winning team. Ryan says he doesn’t feel any more pressured to produce because of this contract than he did under his rookie deal, though, because it comes with the territory of playing the position.
“I don’t worry about it too much,” Ryan said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “I think it’s one of those things … you understand playing this position, the stuff that comes with it. And that’s one of those things that comes with it. I’m a big believer in if you’re worrying about that stuff, you’re not worrying about the right stuff. I have to be concerned with what I’m doing on the field, what I’m doing in the weight room, and how I’m preparing myself in the meeting rooms. And I feel like if you do that stuff and you’re concentrating on improving in those areas, then all the other stuff ends up taking care of itself. And that’s kind of the way I’ve approached it.”
Coach Mike Smith had a similar take, saying it doesn’t matter what you are getting paid when you are the starting quarterback. There can be a ripple effect on the roster when so much money is devoted to one position, though, and it would be naive to think that there aren’t higher expectations attached to that salary. If the Falcons can’t rebound this year, there will surely be more questions about Ryan, his contract and how they fit into the team’s overall trajectory.