Falcons owner Arthur Blank has walked down this gilded path before.
Back in 2004, he made Michael Vick the highest-paid player in the league with a 10-year $130 million contract.
Nine years later, the Falcons have closely monitored how Joe Flacco’s contract situation has played out in Baltimore.
Flacco, a quarterback from Delaware who was selected 15 picks after Matt Ryan in the 2008 draft, became the NFL’s highest paid player on Monday when he signed a six-year $120.6 million contract. A total of $52 million is guaranteed, the second-highest guarantee of any quarterback in history.
Ryan is set to enter the final year of the six-year, $72 million contract he signed in May of 2008. He had $34.75 million of his original contract guaranteed.
“It’s yet another comparable and data point for Matt Ryan,” said Andrew Brandt, ESPN’s NFL business analyst and former chief negotiator for the Green Bay Packers. “The gold standard was Drew Brees, at least on the average at $20 million (per season). Now, you have $20.1 million. It’s certainly a place they could look at as the freshest data point.”
When the time is right, Ryan appears set to join Flacco in the $100 million club.
“He should average at least $21 million, $22 million or $23 million,” said Joel Corry, a former sports agent who covers football business for the nationalfootballpost.com.
Under Corry’s forecast, a six-year deal for Ryan would fall somewhere between $126 million and $138 million with more that $60 million of it guaranteed.