Atlanta Falcons fans can now rest easy as the organization and franchise quarterback Matt Ryan agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $103.75 million before training camp began Thursday. This extension includes $59 million guaranteed as well as $63 million for the first three years of the contract making Matt Ryan the second highest paid player in the NFL.
So what exactly does this extension mean for the Atlanta Falcons and the upcoming 2013 season? Well, pressure on both QB Matt Ryan and the organization has been relieved allowing both sides to focus on the football side of professional football rather than the meticulous details of the business aspect. These negotiations have been one of the few off the field distractions for the Falcons as fans and observers analyzed every offseason signing as to how it would affect the outcome of Ryan’s extension. Now, the Atlanta Falcons can return to focusing on recovering from another disappointing loss in the playoffs in hopes of a Super Bowl championship in 2013.
And what does this mean for Matt Ryan as an elite quarterback? In wake of multiple contract extensions for franchise quarterbacks in the offseason, Matt Ryan has finally received the monetary respect that some argue he deserves. Whether his performance has lived up to this respect or not, this contract extension solidifies Matt Ryan as the Atlanta Falcons’ franchise quarterback symbolizing his importance to this organization.
When Matt Ryan was drafted in 2008, the Falcons were still recovering from the emotional roller coaster ride that was Michael Vick’s six seasons with the organization. Vick provided excitement and entertainment on the field unparalleled in professional football but off the field he provided distractions and bad reputations for a promising football team. After Vick was arrested for involvement in an illegal interstate dog-fighting ring, he was released by the Falcons at the end of the 2006 season. The 2007 season was spent searching for the Falcons new quarterback and when no answer could be found the organization went through a total cleanse of the Michael Vick era.
In 2008, the Atlanta Falcons hired new Head Coach Mike Smith as well as new General Manager Thomas Dimitroff. The two new faces of the Atlanta Falcons along with President Rich McKay and Owner Arthur Blank debated over whether to draft Matt Ryan or a defensive tackle with the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Five consecutive winning seasons later with four trips to the playoffs the higher ups of the Atlanta Falcons franchise are quite pleased with their decision.
At a press conference on Thursday, owner Arthur Blank clarified Ryan’s importance to the organization by saying, “Matt is a franchise quarterback”. However, he also stressed the importance of locking Ryan up with this hearty contract by emphasizing the Atlanta Falcons goal for the 2013 season, “We’re not going to rest really well until we have rings. That’s what this is about.”
Atlanta Falcons training camp began Thursday with no off the field drama after the announcement of Matt Ryan’s contract extension. Matt credits the Atlanta Falcons front office as being the best in the league in terms of getting this deal done with relatively little drama. Now all that’s left for Falcons fans to do is wait and see if Matt Ryan will continue to improve and produce at an elite level.
What do you think? Does Matt Ryan deserve to be the second highest paid player in the NFL? What does this extension mean for expectations for the 2013 season? Is the Atlanta Falcons motto truly Super Bowl or bust? Voice your opinion in the comment section below!