Under any analysis, Matt Ryan’s contract sets a new bar

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The numbers on the new Matt Ryan contract have made their way to PFT headquarters. And, well, wow.

The full breakdown appears below, followed by some analysis. All numbers come from a source with knowledge of the deal.

1. Signing bonus: $46.5 million.

2. 2018 salary: $6 million, fully guaranteed.

3. 2019 option bonus: $10 million, fully guaranteed.

4. 2019 salary: $11.5 million, fully guaranteed.

5. 2020 salary: $20.5 million, fully guaranteed.

6. 2021 salary: $23 million, $5.5 million of which is guaranteed for injury only at signing. The $5.5 million becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2019 league year.

7. 2022 roster bonus: $7.5 million, due third day of 2022 league year.

8. 2022 salary: $16.25 million.

9. 2023 roster bonus: $7.5 million, due third day of 2023 league year.

10. 2023 salary: $20.5 million.

11. All guarantees have no offset language.

Here’s what it all means.

First, Ryan has a whopping $94.5 million fully guaranteed at signing. The remaining $5.5 million in guarantees for injury only at signing are, as a practical matter, fully guaranteed. Indeed, the only way to avoid the $5.5 million would be to cut Ryan after one year — and to owe him $94.5 million without the opportunity to offset any of the cash to be paid later.

Second, there is no fluff in the deal. No per-game roster bonuses, no workout bonuses, no incentives. It’s “all clean cash,” as the source explained it.

Third, if Ryan had opted to go year to year, he would have made $19.25 million this year, $25.98 million under the franchise tag in 2019, and $31.176 million in 2020. That’s a three-year haul of $76.406 million. Under the new contract, Ryan will make $94.5 million.

Fourth, in the non-guaranteed years, the Falcons will have to decide early whether to move on from Ryan, given the $7.5 million due on the third day of the 2022 and 2023 league years.

Fifth, the new-money value is $30 million per year, which is a record. The full value at signing — six years, $169.25 million — is $28.2 million. (That’s not quite as good as $28.3 million, but in one specific way it’s a lot better.)

So Ryan has set a new bar. And it won’t be easy for the Packers and Aaron Rodgers to overcome it. We’ll explain that in further detail in a separate post.

For now, the point is this: Ryan has gotten a record-setting deal, and he’ll likely be a Falcons for the next six years, and probably beyond.

65 responses to “Under any analysis, Matt Ryan’s contract sets a new bar

  1. Blame the 49ers and Vikings who both wildly overpaid for QBs who haven’t come close to accomplishing what Matt Ryan has!

  2. And the season ticket price, along with the cost of a beer/food just went up……, again, all across the League.

  3. Rodgers won’t say a word. He hasn’t said a word. He doesn’t need to. The Packers know what to do and they’ll do it and Rodgers will appreciate it and deserve it.


  4. Green Bay knew something like this was coming. Much to do about nothing new, as every next QB deal is a record. Russ Ball will top this and turn around and hand the responsibility to the next team in line. Yippee..

  5. Sal Tynuts says:
    May 4, 2018 at 10:36 am
    This stuff is going to backfire on the league as a whole.


    Yeah, as a fan it makes me sick. This is the same reason I quit warching the NBA. It’s gross.

  6. rkt4mayor says:
    May 4, 2018 at 10:22 am
    Blame the 49ers and Vikings who both wildly overpaid for QBs who haven’t come close to accomplishing what Matt Ryan has!
    I must have missed it, what did Ryan accomplish?

  7. Breaks down kinda nicely as far as percent of the cap at an average of 13% of the cap in any given year assuming the cap grows around $12 million a year as it has over the last 5 years. Eye popping numbers, but not crippling.

  8. Ryan has had some great years and others no so great. He failed to hold the lead in the Superbowl and failed on four tries from the goal line against the Eagles last year. For that he gets to be the highest paid player in football. It just goes to show you the dearth of QB talent in the NFL.

  9. Why pay less?

    It means, why on earth would you want to pay more when you don’t have to?

    He’s a good QB. But I agree 100% that this QB thing is going to have a serious ripple effect.

    Take a great D, great coaching and a game manager and you can win a SB. It’s been proven over and over. Or just be lucky to have Belichick and a great QB and you can win a bunch.

    Brady’s contract sure helps out too. These other teams are going to be screwed when the QB gets hurt or sucks.

    PS: If only the Patriots had one more CB to put in the game…(back to the D, it always comes back to that).

  10. so what do you guys expect them to do with the money that comes with an increasing salary cap and non-expanding roster size? Pay the worst guy on the team more? That doesn’t make much sense to me. You pay the guy that puts people in the seats which in turn puts money in your pocket. QB’s are that guy. Always have been. Rodgers deserves what he’s going to get. So does Wilson.

  11. ariani1985 says:
    May 4, 2018 at 10:24 am
    Rodgers is fuming with this news and stamping his feet saying ” I want more!!!”

    No, as soon as Rodgers heard this he broke into a big smile then went out and ordered a boat.

  12. Ryan’s a great QB for sure but that’s way too much cap devoted to one guy, even a QB. How many SBs have these QBs won AFTER silly big pay raises to keep them: Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Brees, Flacco, Luck, Stafford, Palmer, Wilson = ZERO. And now add Carr, Cousins and Ryan to that list.

  13. It is a new bar, but a vast majority of teams will be bending backwards to stay under the bar just like the game of limbo stick. It is as crazy as it was when the Ravens gave Joe Flacco a magabucks contract, then they have to cut and trade players to stay under the salary cap. The net result is a team that keeps on missing the playoffs year after year.

  14. Never. Won. Anything.

    Had a 25 point lead in the super bowl and couldn’t produce one – I said 1 – first down to win the game.

    Let’s see how this works out for them.

  15. IMO, there are only 2 active quarterbacks who deserve to be paid that much money because they can carry a mediocre team into the playoffs year after year. Those 2 are Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Jimmy G may prove to be in the same category, but he has not yet proven it. Other qbs, including Drew Brees, Big Ben and Russell Wilson, have missed the playoffs and even had losing records. There was a third one who deserved the same amount of money, but he is retired. His team has not made the playoffs without him. His name is Peyton Mannning.

  16. joetoronto says:
    May 4, 2018 at 10:54 am
    I must have missed it, what did Ryan accomplish?

    Matt Ryan was the 2016 NFL MVP, Joe. He led his team to the Super Bowl. They lost but at least he led them there. WTF has Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garrapolo accomplished? Jimmy G hasn’t even started 10 games in his entire career! My point was: the 49ers and Vikings set the market for QB pay and whatever you think of Matt Ryan’s career he is far more accomplished than either Cousins or Jimmy G! Is this even debatable?

  17. Just a fan….But Qb’s salaries are taking 1/6 th of salary capspace…there’s another 60 players or so(practice squad) too pay!u pay a Top DT & Wr another $25mil combined a yr that’s 1/4 of your cap ..Crazzy..if a team takes 2 1st rd pics in 5 yrs u can’t afford them both..

  18. Matty Ice making 30 million per year & Tom Brady making 14 million..I wonder what Giselle’s opinion will be on that.

  19. Just a dumb, dumb, dumb move Falcons…Ryan is a GOOD but not GREAT QB and now you’ve put the franchise into the same perdicament as the Ravens w/Flaco. At least the Ravens see light at the end of the tunnel. This going to back-fire Atlanta

  20. Tom Brady only has himself to blame for QBs inferior to him making better money. He chose less pay so he could win Super Bowls and I commend him for it. Plus, his wife is very wealthy and that makes it easier to accept less pay than he is worth.

  21. Amazing…choking in the Super Bowl gets you a $100M contract. The Falcons are dumb for giving a choker that much money. Good luck watching the Super Bowl from home every year for the life of that contract.

  22. winningisabrees said:
    May 4, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Why do people think Rodgers is the GOAT? seriously, somebody tell me.


    Whether he’s the GOAT or not remains to be seen (and debated ad infinitum). But very few dispute that he’s the best still playing the game, except for a few delusional Viking trolls.

  23. Tom Brady is better than Aaron Rodgers. 5 Super Bowl rings vs 1 Super Bowl ring. It is no contest and I am not a special pleader for either player. I am an Eagles fan. But, anyone who thinks Rodgers is better than Brady is smoking crack or a Packers homer.

  24. The QB market is in desperate need of a correction. All these guys with no Super Bowls on their resumes making nearly 100 mil in guaranteed money is insane. It’s almost like the NFL needs position caps.

  25. winningisabrees says:
    May 4, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Why do people think Rodgers is the GOAT? seriously, somebody tell me.

    Because no quarterback in history has had a bigger impact on his team’s success than Rodgers. That team’s floor with Rodgers is 10-6 and we’ve seen a couple of times that they are hot garbage without him.

  26. Brady has five rings, but four of them are because of his kicker and his defense. He earned the 5th one because of his experience and his clutch play in that situation, but you could still make an argument that his defense kept him in that game once he started the comeback.

  27. Most fans probably earn between $50K – $100K annually.
    Quarterbacks are making $20M – $30M per season.

    I don’t see how the NFL or any Pro league can thrive in the long term with that growing disparity. I’m generally on the players side (Millionaires vs. Billionaires) but this is not a sustainable model. I think the NFL probably knows this but ‘hey, we’re making money’.

  28. 3 wrongs don’t equal 1 right and until Ryan wins a Super Bowl he hasn’t accomplished anything.

  29. rkt4mayor says:
    May 4, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    Tom Brady is better than Aaron Rodgers. 5 Super Bowl rings vs 1 Super Bowl ring. It is no contest and I am not a special pleader for either player. I am an Eagles fan. But, anyone who thinks Rodgers is better than Brady is smoking crack or a Packers homer.



    Good luck Atlanta – you are going to need it with this deal…

  30. Honestly, when is it going to end? I understand that the qb position is the most mentally difficult position to play in all of sports. However, the quarterbacks have been in the pockets of vested veterans for years now. At some point, there must be a tipping scale where the qb has maxed out his value. The game has been slanted to favor the offensive passing game, qb’s have special rules about how they can be hit to protect the investment of high scoring games in the league. What happens when fed up underpaid defensive player looking to make a name for himself says to himself, “hey if I take this guy out the team is toast and the league is talking about me” and then takes a cheap shot at him? There are only so many competent qb’s to go around hence the market price but if you really think about it, teams are only one hit away from going back to a more balanced/conventional offense where the running game is valued. Vested veterans and running backs have really suffered from the inflated salaries of the quarterback. At some point, qb’s should just have a max contract where they can no longer hinder teams salary caps.

  31. Even the guy who has actually WON five Super Bowls does make this money. I get that Matt Ryan is a very good QB with some impressive stats, but without at least one ring, that contract is a joke. The money is ridiculous.

  32. wawa33 says:
    May 4, 2018 at 11:45 am
    Matty Ice making 30 million per year & Tom Brady making 14 million..I wonder what Giselle’s opinion will be on that.

    I think she makes like twice both of them combined so she is probably ok.

  33. Once again the Falcons show they have learned nothing. When they overpaid Ryan the first time and had nothing leftover to build pay for good, YOUNG free agents on the defense they ended up bottom feeding with old vets like Osi Umenyiora, Asante Samuel and Omar Gaither. They finally climb out the hole get to the Super Bowl and a year shades of 2013 with their QB contract. When the team is 1 or 2 players away from the playoffs AGAIN, remember this contract!

  34. It’s basically 3 years/$94.5 million. Because they can cut him in 2021 as that year is guaranteed for injury only. That’s still $31.5 million/yr. Not bad.

  35. What?! Matt Ryan got paid what?.Jimmy G should hold out of training camp until they give him a fair deal!

  36. I am curious about one thing in this write up:

    “3. 2019 option bonus: $10 million, fully guaranteed.”

    What exactly is an option bonus, and given the term “option,” how can it be fully guaranteed? Not trying to be sarcastic at all – truly wondering what this piece is.

  37. madtowndan says:
    May 4, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Whether he’s the GOAT or not remains to be seen (and debated ad infinitum). But very few dispute that he’s the best still playing the game, except for a few delusional Viking trolls.

    Rodgers isn’t even in the discussion. What is there to be seen or debated?

  38. The love of money…IS…the root of all evil ! The world has always promoted ….the more money you have , the happier you will be…balony !..How long can the NFL support these outrageous player contracts before going belly up ? Fans abilities to keep up with this charade is non existent and this whole house of cards is fast getting top heavy and will implode under it’s own weight! The NFL is becoming a Greed monger in everyone’s eyes and they better enjoy while they can because this financial sport’s franchise model cannot possibly sustain itself.

  39. Just like to take this opportunity to say thank you Tom Brady! Your willingness to forgoe an extra 10-15 mil per year has really allowed the Pats to build better teams year in year out…Matt Ryan owes Julio some of that coin!

  40. Yes there are QBs who deserve a a better contract but lets not downplay Matt Ryan’s ability by saying he blew a SB lead and never won one.
    1. Matt Ryan didnt blow the superbowl lead, the defense did.
    2. Matt actually played better than Brady stats wise.
    3. Yes superbowl rings are an important measure but there are some trash players who won a superbowl, does that mean they deserve a top contract?

  41. IMO, this all started with the Bears signing Mike Glennon to a 3 year 42.5M contract.

    Rodgers deserves his next contract since he clearly carries the Packers. Good Lucking paying him!

  42. Tim Tebow outscored all of the QBs in this list with 34 scores in his first 16 games of playing time.

  43. Wow! How are teams going to afford both a franchise QB and a supporting cast? League revenue better keep rising with the salary cap. This could get ugly.

  44. What players earn is really only interesting as far as it impacts a team’s salary cap. Ryan got this contract because he’s a relatively young, proven NFL QB. He “deserves” it because it’s what his team agreed to pay him.

    People act like players are blackmailing teams for money – contracts are negotiated by both sides (at least the big ones are). The NFL isn’t running out of money anytime soon. I agree that these QB salaries seem ridiculous, but it’s what the market is at right now. If Atlanta didn’t pay him then someone else would.

    Pro athletes – many of them, anyway – make a lot of money, and they work very hard to earn it. They earn big salaries because they have very specialized skills that teams are willing to pay for. Sports are entertainment and people in entertainment can earn a lot of money because there’s a lot of money to be made.

    I don’t get why fans get so emotional about this stuff. It’s just business.

  45. lenthevikesfan says:
    May 4, 2018 at 11:06 am
    “…QB’s are that guy. Always have been…”

    Barry Sanders disagrees.

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