Add another quarterback to the $100 million club.
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons agreed to a deal Thursday afternoon worth $103.75 million over five years, the contract includes $59 million in guarenteed money, second only to the contract of New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady.
Ryan and the Falcons have faced an offseason of contract speculation, with the team's star player about to enter the final year of the six-year $72 million contract he signed as a rookie in 2008.
Atlanta's front office was desperate to avoid a repeat of the Joe Flacco scenario, where the Baltimore Ravens let their quarterback, who entered the league the same year as Ryan, play out the final year of his rookie deal. Flacco led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory last season and Baltimore was forced to shell out $120 million to keep Flacco's services, a deal that made him the highest paid player in NFL history.
The Falcons have been preparing a deal to extend Ryan for some time. Earlier this offseason the team released veterans Duanta Robinson and Tyson Clabo. Both players were solid contributors to the team over the past few seasons but needed to be offloaded in order to create the cap space to complete the deal for Ryan.
Now more than ever before, the NFL is a quarterback driven league and by locking up Ryan for the forseeable future, the Falcons know that they will posess one of the league's most efficient trigger-men for years to come.
Ryan has thrown for almost 19,000 yards since he entered the league in 2008 and has tossed 127 touchdowns with 60 interceptions in that span. He has led the Falcons to the Playoffs in four of his five seasons in the NFL and his 56 regular season wins ranks most in all quarterbacks' first five years in the league.
The only blemish on Ryan's record is that he has only won one of his five career playoff starts, a reasonable criticism when you consider that Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Joe Flacco, all of which earn similar money to Ryan, have also won at least one Super Bowl Championship.
However, Ryan's stellar regular season play has put him firmly in the elite-quarterback category, meaning he is more than deserving of his money.
His astute leadership and stunning ability to maunfacture fourth-quarter comebacks has made the Falcons perennial Playoff contenders.
Atlanta was ten-yards away from playing in the Super Bowl last year and with arguably the league's best offence there is no reason not to believe that this year is their year.
It is now time for Ryan to prove his is worth the $100 million outlay, convert his regular season victories into playoff success and get that elusive Super Bowl ring for the Atlanta Falcons.
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