Atlanta – Matt Ryan is the NFL’s first $100 million man.
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback became the league’s highest-paid player Thursday by agreeing to a five-year contract extension that could be worth as much as $150 million.
Ryan’s deal surpasses the total compensation of the $84 million, three-year guaranteed deal that quarterback Kirk Cousins received from the Minnesota Vikings.
If Ryan receives the full terms of the contract, he would receive an average of $30 million a year, also more than Cousin’s $28 million yearly payout.
Cousins’ stunning deal set the target for Ryan’s negotiations with the Falcons, though it might be a short stay at No. 1.
The Green Bay Packers are trying to complete a new deal with their franchise quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who will likely be looking to surpass Ryan’s figure.
That’s of no concern to the Falcons, who took care of their major offseason priority by locking up Ryan once his current deal expires after the 2018 season. He’ll make $19.25 million in the final year of that contract.
“This extension was our primary focus this offseason,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement. “Matt has been a pillar of stability for this franchise for a decade, and it is a great feeling knowing that he will remain at our helm for five more years.”
Ryan was the third overall draft pick in 2008 and has been the Falcons’ starting quarterback ever since. He has only missed two starts over the first decade of his career, passing for 41,796 yards with 260 touchdowns while begin voted to the Pro Bowl four times.
No quarterback has passed for more yards in the first 10 seasons of his career.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years already,” said Ryan, who will turn 33 in a couple of weeks. “While we have accomplished a lot, our goal remains what it was the day I got drafted, and that’s to bring a championship to our city and fans.”
Ryan was the league MVP in 2016, guiding Atlanta to only the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. But the Falcons infamously squandered a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter, losing to the New England Patriots 34-28 in overtime.
This past season, the Falcons earned a wild-card berth and pulled off a first-round upset of the Rams in Los Angeles before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round.
The offense struggled at times under first-year coordinator Steve Sarkisian, though Ryan still managed to surpass 4,000 yards passing for the seventh year in a row. His touchdowns slipped significantly, however, going from a career-best 38 during his MVP season to just 20 – the lowest total since he was a rookie.
With the contract talks out of the way, Ryan looks forward to spending the rest of his career with the Falcons. He will be 38 at the end of the contract.
“We know there is a lot of work to do, but being able to ensure I can end my career where I started it, is something that I am very fortunate to be able to do,” he said.
With Ryan entered the league, the Falcons were coming off a 4-12 season and had lost star quarterback Michael Vick, who was sentenced to federal prison for running a dogfighting operation and never played another game for Atlanta.
Ryan restored stability to the franchise, starting from his very first game and leading the Falcons to the first of five straight winning seasons. Until that streak, they had never finished above .500 in back-to-back years.
The Falcons have a 95-63 record with Ryan as their starting QB, winning NFC South titles in 2010, 2012 and 2016. They have made six playoff appearances, reaching the NFC championship game during the 2012 season.
“Matt has proven to be a leader for this franchise on and off the field, and we are fortunate to have him as our quarterback,” Dimitroff said. “Matt has guided us to a decade of success that is unmatched in franchise history, but we all know there is more to be accomplished, and we are confident we can get that done with Matt.”
It’s been a big year for Ryan, both personally and professionally.
His wife, Sarah, delivered twin boys shortly after the season ended.