Matt Ryan

Falcons Restructure Matt Ryan’s Contract

Khalil Mack wasn’t the only superstar to get his contract restructured today. The Falcons are tweaking Matt Ryan‘s deal, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Yates writes the Falcons created $7MM in cap space by converting $8.75M of Ryan’s base salary into a signing bonus. It’s a win-win for both sides, as Ryan will get more money upfront while the team will get to spread the cap charge out over the course of the rest of his contract. Ryan signed a massive five-year extension with the team last May.

The Falcons had previously had the least cap space in the entire league according to Overthecap.com’s estimations, so this was a desperately needed move. The Falcons have been pretty quiet this offseason, and the only moves they’ve made this month have been franchise-tagging defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and extending backup quarterback Matt Schaub.

The Falcons have more flexibility now, so it’s safe to assume they’re looking to add a piece or two. 2019 will be a critical year for Atlanta after they fired almost all of their assistants after last season. If they don’t progress in 2019, head coach Dan Quinn could find himself out of a job.

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Latest On Matt Ryan’s Extension

The details in Matt Ryan‘s historic five-year, $150MM Falcons extension further paint this pact as a player-friendly agreement. Indeed, Ryan has set the bar for full guarantees, with $94.5MM fully guaranteed at signing and another $5.5MM essentially guaranteed (for injury only), Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.

After a record $52.5MM comes Ryan’s way this year, he will earn a fully guaranteed $10MM roster bonus in 2019 and a $11.5MM next season as well. In 2020, Ryan will collect a $20.5MM fully guaranteed salary, Florio reports.

The Falcons quarterback’s 2021 salary contains $5.5MM guaranteed for injury at signing, and despite that season being three years away, that $5.5MM becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2019 league year, Florio adds. He’ll earn a $23MM base salary in 2021. The only way Ryan wouldn’t collect his $5.5MM injury guarantee is for the Falcons to part ways with him — at an extreme cost — just after the start of the ’19 league year. So, for all intents and purposes, the 2008 first-round pick has $100MM guaranteed to come his way.

There’s a $7.5MM roster bonus due to Ryan on the third day of the 2022 league year, and Florio adds Ryan’s ’22 and ’23 salaries are set to be $16.25MM and $20.5MM, respectively.

Interestingly, none of these guarantees contain any offset language, Florio reports, with a source informing him this deal contains “all clean cash.” No incentives, per-game roster bonuses or workout bonuses are included in this contract — one that ties Ryan to the Falcons through his age-38 season.

This will certainly come up often in the Packers’ ongoing negotiations with Aaron Rodgers and future quarterback talks, like the impending Seahawks/Russell Wilson discussions.

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Extra Points: Browns, Ryan, 49ers, Texans

As we heard Sunday, Browns VP of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith indicated Sam Darnold was his preferred quarterback until late in the draft process. Baker Mayfield then became the consensus choice. However, the first-year Browns exec had one interesting reason for being less interested in Josh Rosen, whom the Browns worked out at UCLA and hosted on a visit.

I was at an airport. UCLA’s volleyball team was in front of me. You heard so much about Rosen. He’s this or that,” Highsmith said, via cleveland.com. “We all know how people talk. So I asked one of the volleyball coaches, ‘What’s Rosen like?’ He said, ‘Aaaaa, you should probably ask his girlfriend. She’s one of the players. She’s over there. I’m like, ‘All right, coach. That’s good enough.’

I don’t know what all this means, but there was something about him that bothered me.”

The Browns were not connected closely to Rosen, the least mobile of this year’s top QB contingent but also the player who could well be the readiest to start in Week 1, and they preferred a more mobile passer. But this candor is rather interesting and may not age well if Rosen has a strong rookie year for the Cardinals. It’s not the first time a key Browns exec’s made a comment on a quarterback they bypassed.

As for Allen, Highsmith wasn’t interested in hearing excuses for why the Wyoming player couldn’t complete 57 percent of his passes in either of his two years as a starter.

Josh Allen … big arm … he could throw the ball from here to the moon,” Highsmith said. “When they have to make excuses … why are they not completing passes? That’s a problem. Baker Mayfield lost two receivers (from the 2016 team) and he was the same quarterback.”

  • In addition to Matt Ryan‘s five-year, $150MM Falcons extension being a per-year record, it contains the most Year 1 money in NFL history. The 11th-year quarterback will take home $52.5MM in 2018, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports. However, Matthew Stafford still holds the signing bonus record. Ryan will see a $46.5MM bonus, per Graziano. That’s just shy of Stafford’s record $50MM signing bonus agreed to last year.
  • Elvis Dumervil is currently without a team after the 49ers did not pick up his option. The 49ers did not draft an edge defender this year, and John Lynch indicated Dumervil — his teammate for two seasons with the Broncos — could be brought back and may not need a full offseason in what would be his 13th year. “Yeah, I think it could be,” Lynch said (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle) of a possible reunion with the 34-year-old pass rusher. “I’m sure a lot of (teams) are looking at it as such. Elvis isn’t a guy who at this stage of his career really needs to be around in an offseason. He’s a professional. He takes tremendous pride in how he trains, how he eats and all those things. So he’ll be ready.” Lynch mentioned the 49ers plan to evaluate some younger players for pass-rushing roles, though, so it could be a while before a possible reunion commences. Dumervil made $4.5MM with San Francisco last season and registered a team-high 6.5 sacks.
  • The Texans are moving second-year cornerback Treston Decoud to safety, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets. A 2017 fifth-round pick, Decoud played in 10 games for the Texans as a rookie. Decoud played cornerback in both of his seasons at Oregon State. He’s the younger brother of former longtime Falcons safety Thomas Decoud. Houston signed Tyrann Mathieu in free agency and drafted Justin Reid with its first 2018 pick, a third-rounder, so Treston Decoud could stay a depth piece at his new position.
  • Houston’s revamp of its scouting department will see the franchise hire nine-year Patriots staffer James Liipfert as the new director of college scouting, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Liipfert will succeed Jon Carr in this role. Having been with the Patriots during each year Bill O’Brien was, Liipfert served the past three seasons with the Patriots as a national scout after previously being an area scout.

NFC South Notes: Ryan, Vea, Panthers

The $100MM guaranteed in Matt Ryan‘s landscape-changing Falcons extension appears to be fully guaranteed. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (video link) Ryan will see every dollar of this nine-figure allotment, one that will take the quarterback guarantee market to another level. Kirk Cousins‘ previous record of $84MM — more than $20MM more than Matthew Stafford‘s then-record amount from last summer — lasted less than two months. While it would be a good bet Ryan would see all $100MM even if it weren’t fully guaranteed, given the 11th-year quarterback’s reliability and importance to the Falcons, this sets a high floor for the impending Aaron Rodgers extension. This Ryan deal may have been completed as early as March, per Pelissero, but Ryan’s wife having twins in March prompted the parties to delay the talks.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Despite being able to land Vita Vea with the No. 12 overall pick, the Buccaneers placed a top-five grade on the defensive tackle. Jason Licht said during an appearance on Good Morning Football (video link) Vea was slotted at fourth on the Bucs’ board. This made it risky for Tampa Bay to trade the No. 7 pick to Buffalo, with three non-quarterbacks going from Nos. 7-11, but the south Florida franchise landed Vea anyway. Licht said the Bucs ran several pre-draft scenarios centered around the possibility of trading back and still seeing Vea available, but the GM indicated there were a couple of players the team would have been comfortable with at No. 12 if another team chose Vea. One of these could have been Derwin James, a player whom Licht said the Bucs liked “a lot.”
  • A somewhat strange shakeup will occur on the Panthers‘ coaching staff. Curtis Fuller will resign from his post as defensive backs coach, Joe Person and Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer report. The reasoning for this exit is as of now unknown, with GM Marty Hurney telling the Observer “it’s a complicated situation.” Fuller’s been on Carolina’s staff since 2013, serving in various capacities — mostly helping defensive backs. The 39-year-old assistant rose to his most recent role last year after Steve Wilks was promoted to defensive coordinator.
  • Part of an NFL initiative for overseas players being placed on NFC South practice squads, defensive end Alex Jenkins remains with the Saints going into what could be his second year after signing a reserve/futures contract. And the team will again receive a roster exemption, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports (on Twitter). The England native won’t count against the Saints’ 90-man offseason roster and would be an 11th man on the practice squad if he can’t make the team’s 53-man roster out of camp.

Falcons Sign Matt Ryan To Massive Extension

The Falcons have locked up their franchise quarterback. Matt Ryan has agreed to a five-year, $150MM extension with the team, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The deal includes $100MM guaranteed, setting a new all-time record for signal callers. Ryan is now under contract through the 2023 season, keeping him in place through his age-38 season. 

Ryan has thrown for 41,796 yards over the course of his ten-year career with 260 touchdowns against 126 interceptions. In the 2016 season, he became the first Falcons player to win the league’s MVP award as he guided Atlanta to its second Super Bowl appearance. Ryan threw for nearly 5,000 yards in the regular season and completed 71.4% of his passes in the playoffs with zero interceptions.

Ryan set a high standard with his play in 2016, but he had a strong follow-up effort last year. The 32-year-old (he’ll 33 in two weeks) threw for 4,095 yards and tied for second place with Drew Brees amongst all QBs in terms of performance, per Pro Football Focus.

The Falcons passer is now the league’s highest-paid player, but as it usually goes for quarterbacks, he probably won’t hold that title for very long. Assuming that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are on the same page, Rodgers figures to be next in line for a high-paying extension that will likely top Ryan’s. Ryan’s deal is also good news for young QBs Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota as the Bucs and Titans look to keep them out of the free agent pool in 2019.

Ryan’s $30MM average annual value tops the $28.8MM AAV of Kirk Cousins‘ free agent deal with the Vikings, making him the highest-paid QB in the league on a per-season basis. After that, Jimmy Garoppolo ($27.5MM), Matthew Stafford ($27MM), and Derek Carr ($25MM) round out the top five.

This year, Ryan will look to get the Falcons back in the Super Bowl mix with an offense that is as potent as ever. After losing wide receiver Taylor Gabriel to free agency, the Falcons landed Alabama’s Calvin Ridley late in the first round, a player who many feel could be the best receiver to come out of this year’s class. He’ll learn from superstar Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu while Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman continue to wreak havoc out of the backfield.

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NFC South Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Bucs

Contract talks between the Falcons and franchise quarterback Matt Ryan have been enveloped by positive words from both sides, and today Ryan affirmed that while no deal is close, talks are moving towards an end goal. “Everything is good. I think the discussions have been very positive. I think those will work out,” said Ryan, whom Atlanta is reportedly willing to make the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback (story via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “As far as a time frame of anything like that, it will shake out. It will handle itself. I don’t know if it will be today or tomorrow. Or in a couple of weeks, but I really think we are moving in the right direction.”

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • Adding new weapons for quarterback Cam Newton was one of the Pantherstop offseason goals, and the club doesn’t figure to stop doing so even after acquiring Torrey Smith and signing Jarius Wright. Carolina will be taking a look at multiple wideout prospects in the coming days, as D.J. Moore (Maryland) and Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) are each scheduled to meet with the Panthers, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Moore and Kirk aren’t the only pass-catchers Carolina is eyeing, as reports earlier today indicated that Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and Memphis’ Anthony Miller will also visit the Panthers.
  • The Buccaneers will meet with Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, tweets Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports. While Tampa Bay figures to be set along the interior of its front five after inking center Ryan Jensen last month, the club could still use help at tackle. Former second-round pick Donovan Smith currently mans Jameis Winston‘s blindside, but he’s consistently struggled and last season graded as just the No. 53 tackle among 81 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. McGlinchey, meanwhile, is viewed as one of the best tackles in a weak class that also includes Connor Williams (Texas) and Kolton Miller (UCLA).
  • The Falcons have announced a few late additions to their coaching staff, as they’ve hired Travis Jones as an assistant defensive line coach and Aden Durde as a defensive quality control assistant. Jones, notably, is fresh off a five-year run with the Seahawks during which he served as the team’s DL coach for four seasons. He’s also worked for the Dolphins, and Saints at the NFL level.

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Bucs

The Falcons have opened extension talks with quarterback Matt Ryan, general manager Thomas Dimitroff told reporters, including Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link), at the combine today. Ryan, 32, has only one year left on his current contract at a cost of $19.25MM in base salary. On an annual basis, Ryan ranks just 14th among quarterbacks, but any new deal will likely catapult him into $28MM+ range. Atlanta has previously expressed a willingness to make Ryan the highest-paid signal-caller in the NFL, so Ryan and his camp may prefer to wait until free agent passer Kirk Cousins inks a new contract (expected to be worth ~$30MM annually) before working out his own pact.

Here’s more from Atlanta and the rest of the NFC South:

  • Left tackle Jake Matthews is set to play on his fifth-year option in 2018, and Dimitroff indicated the Falcons are interested in signing both Matthews and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett to multi-year deals, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Matthews has settled in as an above-average tackle since being selected sixth overall in the 2014 draft. He’s scheduled to earn $12.496MM next season. Jarrett, likewise, has developed into one of the league’s best interior defenders, and graded 14th among 122 defensive tackles a year ago, according to Pro Football Focus.
  • Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and linebacker Kemal Ishmael will both be allowed to hit free agency, Dimitroff said today (Twitter links via McClure). That doesn’t necessarily mean Atlanta doesn’t have interest in retaining either player, but the club will allow Gabriel and Ishmael to gauge their value on the open market. Last season, Gabriel regressed from his excellent 2016 campaign, while Ishmael spent the majority of his time on special teams.
  • Bids for the Panthers franchise haven’t yet been entered, but the sale of the club is likely to be wrapped up in time for the NFL’s spring meeting in late May, report David Newton and Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. At that point, the league’s finance committee must approve any potential deal, and 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners must vote to go forward with the sale. Presently, the only two serious contenders to purchase the Panthers from current owner Jerry Richardson are hedge fund manager/minority Steelers owner David Tepper and South Carolina businessman Ben Navarro, per the ESPN scribes.
  • While the Buccaneers have had conversations with free agent backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, they aren’t nearing a new deal, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links). Fitzpatrick, 35, managed a 2-1 record in relief of starter Jameis Winston last season while completing 59% of his passes for six touchdowns and three interceptions. He earned $3MM for his year of work in Tampa Bay.

Falcons Notes: Coleman, Ryan, Bryant

Over the summer, the Falcons locked up Devonta Freeman with a five-year extension worth more than $41MM. That’s a big chunk of change to dedicate to the running back position, but GM Thomas Dimitroff seems to think that there will be enough room to also keep Tevin Coleman in the fold after his contract expires next year (Twitter link via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com).

Coleman, a third-round pick in the 2015 draft, is slated to carry a cap number of just $978K in his final year under contract. The Falcons love having him as a complement to Freeman, but with a career average of 4.3 yards per carry, Coleman figures to attract starter money on the open market in 2019. If the Falcons are intent on keeping the tandem together, their best bet might be to extend Coleman in the coming weeks, before RBs like Isaiah Crowell, Carlos Hyde, Dion Lewis ink new contracts.

Here’s more from Atlanta:

  • No surprise here, but Dimitroff says a contract extension for Matt Ryan will be a top focus for the team as they look to create flexibility going forward (Twitter link via McClure). As it stands, the quarterback is signed through 2018 and is slated to carry a cap charge in excess of $21MM. Of course, re-upping the MVP of the 2016 season won’t be cheap. Ryan turned in another strong season in 2017, tying with Drew Brees as the second-best quarterback in the league, per Pro Football Focus, placing him behind only Tom Brady. He also eclipsed 4,000 passing yards for the seventh consecutive season, though his 4,095 total was his lowest since 2010.
  • Dimitroff says the team will talk to kicker Matt Bryant soon about a contract extension (Twitter link via McClure). Bryant will turn 43 in May, but it sounds like the kicker is intent on continuing his career. In 2017, Bryant connected on 34 of 39 field goal attempts (87.2%) and made all 35 of his extra point tries. Bryant was money from long distance, nailing 8 of 9 kicks from 50+ yards.
  • The Falcons have decided to stick with Steve Sarkisian as their offensive coordinator.

Falcons Rumors: Freeman, Ryan, Poe

The latest from Atlanta:

  • Devonta Freeman‘s agent left town after meeting with Falcons brass over the past couple days, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com hears (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the team isn’t putting a deadline on a deal. The Falcons had hoped to hammer something out by the time training camp started, but it sounds like completing an extension will take longer than anticipated. Recently, Le’Veon Bell rejected the Steelers’ offer of a five-year deal with a $12MM average annual value, $30MM in the first two years of the deal, and $42MM over the first three seasons. Freeman’s camp may be using the framework of that proposal as a baseline for talks.
  • There have yet to be substantive talks between the Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan, Pelissero tweets. The Falcons will likely wait until after the season to talk contract with Matty Ice, Pelissero adds. Ryan is signed through 2018 and is slated to carry cap charges in excess of $21MM in each of the next two seasons. The league’s reigning MVP is probably willing to wait for Matthew Stafford to sign a big money extension of his own with the Lions before getting serious about next deal.
  • Falcons nose tackle Dontari Poe weighed in below 330 pounds today, giving the free agent addition his $125K make-weight bonus, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Many expected Poe to sign a lucrative multi-year deal, but he wound up settling for a one-year deal as teams felt unsure about his conditioning.

No Talks Yet Between Falcons, Matt Ryan

The Falcons have not yet initiated contract negotiations with quarterback Matt Ryan, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.Matt Ryan (Vertical)

“That’s just the business side of it,” said Ryan. “I’m never worried too much about that. I’ve always tried to let the business people handle the business and for me, just try and take care of what I can control, and that’s playing good and preparing the right way. And I’ve always felt like if you do that, the business side of it will take care of itself.”

Ryan, the NFL’s reigning MVP, is currently signed through the 2018 campaign and will carry cap charges north of $21MM in each of the next two seasons. However, the quarterback market has exploded since Ryan inked his extension in 2013, meaning he’s now only the 13th-highest-paid signal-caller in the league with an annual salary of $20.75MM.

The Falcons and owner Arthur Blank have maintained that they will extend the 32-year-old Ryan, and the club is reportedly willing to make Ryan the top-earning quarterback in the NFL.

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