The contract extension handed out to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan further reinforces the idea that the likes of Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and the Big Four of 2012 will all have a chance to secure monster deals in coming years.
And if it wasn't already clearly evident before, we can now safely consider the salary bar for NFL quarterbacks officially raised.
According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Ryan's new deal is for five years and $103.75 million, plus $59 million in guarantees.
The mega extension likely gave the NFL's promising batch of young quarterbacks another reason to smile.
Newton and Kaepernick could conceivably start negotiating their next deals as soon as next spring or summer, while Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson will each have to wait until the offseason following 2014.
However, each quarterback can now look at Ryan's deal—the final in an offseason of mega contract extensions—and realistically see a contract as rich or richer in their future, granted each continues on their current ascensions at the position.
In terms of new deals signed by quarterbacks this offseason, Ryan's certainly stacks up.
The Falcons quarterback will receive $63 million in the first three years of his deal, which is the most among the new mega deals and the most since Peyton Manning received $70.2 million during the first three years of his final deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
His $59 million in guaranteed money is also the most among any of the new deals signed (Tony Romo received $55 million guaranteed, Aaron Rodgers $54 million, Joe Flacco $52 million and Matthew Stafford $43 million).
With strong seasons in 2013, both Newton and Kaepernick could also join the NFL's monetary elite next offseason.
By 2014, Newton would be entering the final year of his bargain rookie deal, worth just over $22 million over four seasons. A 2013 campaign that includes the Carolina Panthers competing and winning a playoff spot—or Newton simply playing extremely well—would likely give the former No. 1 pick the kind of leverage needed to secure the next big deal.
The same goes for Kaepernick, who now has a Super Bowl appearance on his resume, but will make just $740,844 in 2013 and under $1 million in 2014.
If he continues taking the NFL by storm as a second-year starter, the San Francisco 49ers will have to be proactive in getting him in the same tax bracket as his fellow top quarterbacks. If the 49ers win a title in 2013, his monster deal is all but guaranteed next offseason.
Even a veteran quarterback such as Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (free agent in 2014), Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams (2016) or Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears (2014) could realistically demand a severe pay hike if able to carry his team deep into the playoffs this season, such as Flacco did in 2012.
However, two years down the road is where we could easily see the likes of Rodgers, Flacco and Ryan being bypassed in terms of average money and guarantees.
Luck, Griffin III and Wilson all appear on the verge of superstardom. In fact, the trio could very well usher in a new era at the position while the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady approach the end of their Hall of Fame careers. Even Tannehill, a top-10 pick last April, flashed the potential to be a very good NFL starter as a rookie.
Each young quarterback figures to be in line for massive pay raises when the opportunity finally arises.
The new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) restricts players from renegotiating their rookie deals until three years into the deal, which could open the door for the summer of 2015 to equal or surpass the kind of money we've seen thrown out to quarterbacks over the last several months.
Remember these numbers when that summer comes: $110 million over five years (Rodgers' extension average of $22 million), $59 million guaranteed (Ryan's haul) and $63 million over the first three years of the deal (also in Ryan's deal).
Expect the agents for each of the top young quarterbacks listed above to use those figures as the foundation of their negotiations.
Ryan's new deal certainly didn't rewrite how quarterback contracts will be handled in coming years. A combination of deals this offseason effectively accomplished that. But his massive extension did help raise the bar for a final time in 2013, and his numbers will help set baselines for the looming deals that are coming.
Never in the history of the NFL has it been as rewarding to be a young, successful quarterback than it is right now. Don't expect that trend to change for the next batch, which should include the likes of Kaepernick, Newton, Luck, Griffin III and Wilson.
Unless otherwise noted, all salary statistics in this article are courtesy of RotoWorld.com