Jun 18, 2013; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) shown on the field during minicamp at the Falcons Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Memo to Falcons: Pay Matt Ryan


It’s time.

Time to make Matt Ryan the next $100 million quarterback in the NFL, and in doing so, time to eliminate any distraction from what could be a run to the Super Bowl this season.

There have been numerous reports, including a look from the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter, surrounding the Matt Ryan contract negotiations. I won’t claim any “inside” info on how the talks are going, and frankly, any report that appears will be met with a great deal of skepticism from me, as Matt Ryan is about as “buttoned up” of a player as there is in the entire NFL, and the Falcons aren’t much different as an organization.

As training camp opens on Thursday in Flowery Branch, there is an apparent “push” on getting Ryan locked up to a deal, and I’m completely in favor of that. However, some people seem to be hung up on whether Ryan deserves “Joe Flacco” money, “Matthew Stafford” money, or “Aaron Rodgers” money, but frankly, I would pay almost whatever it takes to lock down Ryan in a hurry.

In his career, Ryan is a sparkling 56-22 as a starter, he is coming off of back-to-back 4,000-yard passing seasons (including 4,719 yards last season), and his touchdown total has grown in each of his 5 years under center. At age 28, it may not seem as though Ryan is particularly “young” anymore, but he will play this entire campaign at 28 years old, and with the “greats” like Brady and Manning currently playing into their upper-30′s, there is no reason that Ryan can’t be under center for another 8-to-10 years with his playing style.

I can’t fathom a scenario where Ryan actually reaches free agency, as the Falcons would undoubtedly place the franchise “tag” on him after this year if the two sides can’t come to an agreement. Ryan is the rare player who I can’t see putting up a public fuss about the tag, but there is also no question that he wouldn’t be happy playing year-to-year, and it is usually in the team’s best interest to have their most important player in a positive contract spot.

Either way, this is a crucial season for Ryan, and it begins with the contract negotiations before he ever steps on the practice field in Flowery Branch. Whether the deal is done or not, many will view this as a “make or break” season for Ryan, and if he doesn’t perform equally well (or better) to last season, the detractors will be out in a loud chorus in short order.

I believe that the peak is coming for Matt Ryan, and he should be paid as the top 7-8 quarterback (and climbing) that he has shown himself to be in the league. It’s time to open up the checkbook to Matt Ryan, and preferably, that will happen before things kick off on Thursday afternoon.

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