How much should the Atlanta Falcons pay Jake Matthews?

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 7: Jake Matthews
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 7: Jake Matthews /

The stud offensive lineman is expected to hit free agency after the 2018 season, can the Falcons afford him?

Since being drafted 6th overall by the Atlanta Falcons, Jake Matthews has been a consistent force for the team. Matthews has started every game over the last three seasons, and only missed one start during his rookie year.

He has improved throughout his career and was one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL last year. After picking up his fifth-year option though, the team will see him hit free agency after this upcoming season.

Although there is a possibility he gets a long-term contract before that, we will move forward under the assumption that he’ll hit free agency.

The big question we’ll look into is how much money Matthews will get, and if the Falcons can afford it.

We will examine three contracts for recent left tackles that hit free agency, and how they compare to Matthews.Nate Solder recently got $62 million from the Giants, and he is four years older than Matthews.

He also struggled at points throughout the season, and it’s fair to say Matthews is a superior player currently.

Russell Okung also is four years older than Matthews and got $53 million from the Chargers in an attempt to solidify their line.

Okung was never viewed as a dominant left tackle, but the lack of available options led to him getting so much money.

The closest comparison to Matthews might be Trent Williams, who is also older, but is likely a Hall-of-Famer if he continues his high level of play.He received $66 million from the Redskins and will likely serve as the base for Matthew’s next contract.

What type of contract is Matthews likely to receive after next season?

The Falcons are expected to have over$78 million in cap space next season.Unfortunately, that number doesn’t account for Matt Ryan’s upcoming contract extension.

Ryan’s new deal will likely take up 28-30 million dollars, so the team will likely have around $45 million available.

Could the Falcons realistically offer $15 million per year to Matthews and see if he accepts it?

The team also needs to account for the upcoming free agencies of Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, and Vic Beasley.

Although all of these players are important to the team, Matthews has been a stud on the offensive line.

Recent drafts have also shown that good offensive linemen are hard to come by.

Unless Matthews struggles significantly this year or runs into a serious injury, I think the Falcons should start the negotiations around $13 million per year.

This would still put Matthews in the upper-tier of contracts, but allow the team to remain flexible with their other upcoming free agents.

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In a worst-case scenario, the team can put the franchise tag on Matthews and go from there. This would push his free agency back another year, but it allows the team to assess their other free agents.