Stafford deal could complicate Ryan talks

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As quarterback contracts go, the execution of new deals by Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford puts one fairly big name on deck.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has one year left on his rookie contract, which (absent an extension) will pay him a total of $67.5 million over six years.

With Stafford, who had two years left on a rookie deal executed in 2009, signing a contract worth $15.3 million over five years, it could be harder for Ryan to get top dollar.  While to a lesser extent than the Tom Brady contract (which created cap space that will now be used in part to absorb $10 million of Aaron Hernandez’s signing bonus), Stafford took less than he could have gotten, if he’d finished his contract and forced the Lions to use the franchise tag in 2015, and possibly beyond.

Market value doesn’t matter for a player whose team will never let him hit the market.  Stafford, over the next five years, could have leveraged nearly $114 million out of the Lions, if he was willing to carry the injury risk on a year-in, year-out basis and if the Lions were committed to keeping him.  He chose to take more than $37 million less over the next five years in order to get more than $40 million of the total amount guaranteed today.

With Ryan, who has missed only two games in five years due to injury, only 16 regular-season games (and up to four postseason games) away from becoming a free agent, he’ll have to choose whether to take less than he could get by letting things play out, or whether to take full advantage of his leverage.

If Ryan gets through the season unscathed, the Falcons will face the same dilemma (actually, trilemma) the Ravens confronted in February.  The Falcons can sign Ryan to a long-term deal, they can use the non-exclusive franchise tender and risk having him sign an unmatchable offer sheet with another team, or they can use the exclusive franchise tender and embark on a path that, if Ryan opts to play on a year-to-year basis, would pay out nearly $80 million over three years.

The Ravens opted to simply give Flacco a deal worth $100,000 per year more than the previous high-water mark set by Drew Brees in 2012 before having to apply one of the two types of franchise tags.  For Ryan, he’ll have to choose whether, if he finishes the season without a contract, to try to get $20.2 million or more per year, whether to play under one of the tags (and to entertain offers from other teams if the non-exclusive tag is used), and whether to simply take less.

If he’s going to take less, the time to do it is now, since taking less would also push the injury risk to the Falcons before Ryan puts the hay in the barn for his next deal.  Once Ryan completes his rookie deal and the option essentially becomes (if the Falcons decline to expose him to an offer sheet) a long-term deal or a year-to-year arrangement that would pay out nearly $80 million over three years, why should Ryan look for anything less than $62.5 million over the first three years of a long-term deal, which is the current top of the market for the first-three years of a quarterback deal?

Balanced against that dynamic is the importance of having enough cap space left to field a viable team.  And the Brady, Stafford, and to an extent Rodgers deals show that, at some point, a franchise quarterback needs to help the franchise.

Still, if Ryan is going to take less for the team, it makes sense to do it now, when he’d also be getting the kind of gigantic guaranteed money that would protect him fully and completely against a catastrophic injury.

20 responses to “Stafford deal could complicate Ryan talks

  1. I’m not much of a gambler so if its me, I say restructure the deal now, get a fair amount. Doing what Flacco did rarely works out the way it did for him.

  2. Is taking on injury risk really that big of a deal for the QB position? You always reference it and I am skeptical.

    Even if he tore a ACL or 2 ACLs, and had a head injury, ATL would still have to franchise him or some desperate team would give him a huge deal.

    If RG3 was a FA right now what do you think his deal would be worth? My guess is about 100 million. A good QB is like heroine to NFL teams and they all chase the dragon.

  3. @kenowest

    i’m not saying it is or it isn’t, but why don’t you ask drew brees and dante culpepper what the demand was for their services that summer of ’06. yeah, they got their tens of millions, but i’m sure it could have been more.

  4. No way this is true. There’s not a starting QB in the league – and Stafford’s one of the better ones – who would sign a 5-year deal worth only $15.3M.

    No way.

    And if so, my recommendation is for other players to avoid that agent at all costs.

  5. Yeah, that’s what I dfigured, The 5-year deal is worth $76M with $43M guaranteed.

    Stafford did very well for himself.

    Guys, get the numbers straight.

  6. Any other position on the field, I’m taking the money now. But for a pocket passer, I take the risk. And believe me….if a rusher gets close, I’m grounding the ball without a care in the world. Make the team PAY for making players incur risk.

  7. It’s $15.3M PER YEAR over 5 years, not “$15.3 million over 5 years.”

    So let’s not act like Stafford took some low-ball deal to avoid injury risk. He made out great. That’s top dollar right there.

  8. I’m thinking the teammates of these organizations with quarterbacks coming up on contracts are not too happy.

  9. @ringheadcrusher

    thanks for clarifying that. i thought it sounded stupidly low.

  10. omgvikingsrule are you asking for 2? Do they have to be starters, or even in the league? That could be tough.

  11. At some point the cost of QBs will cripple the NFL. As it is, the league is facing some rebellion from fans who cannot afford to attend games in person. If the escalation continues, they will have to count on the QB to make concessions to keep any semblance of a good team together.

    That could, of course, lead to accusations of collusion.

  12. I think logical voice and omgvikings just need to get a room to themselves and spew nonsense about their teams. It’s obnoxious and not funny. Both Vikings and redskins suck.

  13. Doesn’t get any easier than this. The Ravens set the bar for quarter back contracts. If your a young guy who hasn’t won the games in January then you need to and we will pay you. Flacco did it. Atlanta needs to sat the same thing to Ryan, we can work out something but if you want paid with the qb’s with Super Bowl MVP status, go do it and you will get your money.

  14. Lions have been punked hahaha. Good luck with that. But hey a 9-7 season is like winning the big one in Detroit

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