The first contract was too hot: Joe Flacco isn’t worth anywhere close to the $120.6 million he got and never will be.
The second contract was too cold: Aaron Rodgers might be worth double the $110 million he got.
The third contract? Just right.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers aren’t being paid correctly. For someone as good as Rodgers to really get what he’s worth, he’d have to make $40 million per year, and no quarterback would take that knowing how much it would hurt the rest of his team.
And Flacco? He just had a ton of leverage. He’s a slightly above average quarterback who played like a star for four games, and had Baltimore allowed him to leave, Ravens fans might’ve legitimately burned M&T Bank Stadium to the ground. They just couldn’t take that risk.
The beauty in Matt Ryan’s contract is that it pays him almost exactly what he’s worth. Ryan isn’t Rodgers, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. He’s not the kind of guy who makes you a Super Bowl contender just by being on the team. And that’s perfectly ok. There are only three of those guys in the league.
Ryan falls comfortably into the next group. He’s one of the five or six best quarterbacks in football. Like Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees, his presence virtually guarantees around 10 wins and a playoff spot. Give him a decent coach and a good set of teammates and he can absolutely win a Super Bowl.
Who cares if he hasn’t? Peyton Manning didn’t win one until his eighth year in the league. Brees’ came in year nine, and John Elway didn’t finally get to the top until his last two seasons. Even if I’m not quite as bullish on Atlanta as everyone else (they were horribly overrated last year), they’re still going to compete for titles for the next few years at least. Without Ryan, that doesn’t happen.
What detractors might harp on is the guaranteed money, $59 million to be exact. Frankly, I’m fine with it. In fact, I think he’s probably worth even more. Among NFL starters, only Eli Manning has been more durable over the past few years. Ryan has missed exactly three starts in his career, only two due to injury. His entire contract might as well be guaranteed; you know exactly what you’re getting with him.
Even if last year was a statistical outlier (he’ll never complete over 68% of his passes again), Ryan is going to be a top-tier quarterback for the duration of his contract. He’s going to give you 4,000 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, only 12 or so interceptions and around 10 wins per year.
Will he end up with seven fourth quarter comebacks every year? No way, but not even Joe Montana could pull that off. He’s also not going to go 7-1 in one possession games again, either. But he’s a dependable, Pro Bowl caliber quarterback in a league that depends on them. He’s worth every penny of his new deal.
By: Sam Quinn