Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is the next NFL gun-slinger in line to be rewarded with a handsome contract extension, one that will likely be worth more than $100 million and could feature upwards of $50 million guaranteed.
Hello, multiple Lamborghinis.
The former No. 3 overall pick led his team to another 13-win regular season in 2012, won his first career playoff game and was 10 excruciating yards away from the Super Bowl.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Ryan will sign a mega-deal sometime during the 2013 regular season, so there's plenty of time to project, predict and speculate—all those fun things—on his contract's bottom line.
What's Ryan really worth?
Typically, when a player lobbies for a new contract, he and his agent use the money made by comparable players at said player's position as a starting point.
So, let's compare Ryan to some of the league's most prolific, newly minted quarterbacks.
First, quarterback rating.
Although Ryan's career QB rating is the second-lowest, his 2012 metric is the second-highest, which should be an important bargaining chip.
Breaking down his statistics even further, the individual play of the Falcons quarterback has been on par with Rodgers, Brees and Romo over the last two seasons.
Remember though, Rodgers arguably had the best quarterbacking campaign in NFL history in 2011. Beyond that, Ryan undoubtedly matches up well with the high-volume supremacy of Brees and the sometimes misunderstood Romo, a signal-caller who's been an underrated stat accumulator during his career.
Another important aspect of Ryan's current resume is his steady annual development since 2009.
That type of gradual yet noticeable progression is important as Ryan enters what should be his prime.
Taking everything into consideration, Ryan's contract's worth is probably most comparable to Tony Romo's, at least when emphasizing statistics.
Then, consider that Ryan is five years younger than Romo and already has as many playoff wins as the Cowboys quarterback, and an extension that ultimately exceeds that of Romo's seems most fair and reasonable.
Verdict: Six-years, $107 million, $50 million guaranteed
How it will affect the Falcons' future salary cap situation
The Falcons don't have any major contributors set to the hit the market after the 2013 season—outside of Ryan—especially with the thought that tight end Tony Gonzalez will play only one more year.
However, prior to the 2015 season, the contracts of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, running back Jacquizz Rodgers, cornerback Asante Samuel, defensive lineman Kroy Bierman and most notably wide receiver Julio Jones are set to expire.
One has to expect Jones will garner a huge pay day, and although White will be 33 when his deal is up, it'll be interesting to see how high of a priority Atlanta places on keeping the dynamic trio together.
As it currently stands, according to Spotrac (subscription required), the Falcons roster equates to a total cap hit sum of $96.960 million in 2014, which is well below an expected salary cap of around $120 million.
Spotrac also lists Atlanta's 2013 cap hit total at $116 million, so, if needed, it would have about $5 million to roll over.
Basically, the organization is in a prime position to dedicate a rather large contract extension to Ryan, and depending on how the deal is structured, there should be plenty of room to lock down Weatherspoon, Rodgers and Jones the following year.
There's a chance, though, that if Samuel and White plan to stay around, they'd likely have to do so at a veteran's discount.
Matt Ryan's slowly but surely become one of the league's best quarterbacks, a guy who's emerged as a leader in Atlanta with the ability to throw for over 4,000 yards and toss around 30 touchdowns per season.
In all likelihood, the Falcons quarterback will be the next member of suddenly crowded $100 million/$50 million guaranteed signal-caller club, something he deserves.
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