The price of a franchise quarterback goes up yet again with Ryan officially signing his extension, as he will now be the first player in NFL history to earn $30 million per season. Ryan saw a sharp drop in production this past year after his MVP campaign in 2016, throwing 18 less touchdown passes, five more interceptions and for nearly 900 fewer yards. Still, Ryan is far and away the most consistently productive player the Falcons have had under center in franchise history, and he will now be under contract with the team through 2023. The good news for Ryan is the Falcons added yet another weapon at wide receiver in former Alabama standout Calvin Ridley in an effort to help the offense return close to its 2016 form.
Ryan was confident Monday when reflecting on his contract negotiations, saying he feels talks between him and the team will culminate in an extension, D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "I'm excited about being a Falcon for a long time," Ryan said before the media at his charity golf tournament Monday, "It will get done when it's supposed to get done."
Ryan echoed the sentiment of what Falcons' GM Thomas Dimitroff stated in a radio appearance last week: neither the Falcons nor their franchise quarterback feel apprehensive about the two sides being able to come to a contractual resolution. As long as negotiations remain unresolved, Ryan is set to make $20 million in the expiring year of a five-year, $103.75 million contract which he agreed to just before the start of training camp for the 2013 season. Both sides are considering their respective bargaining price with the re-calibrated quarterback market, having witnessed both Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins sign multi-year deals worth north of $27 million per season.
Dimitroff's comments mirrored what he had said at Georgia's Pro Day in March: "We're not being kept up at night. It still is the No. 1 priority. ... We want to continue to build a team as we're going through this process." Ryan's fantasy value last season severely declined compared to his MVP campaign of 2016, as he plummeted from second to 15th in scoring among quarterbacks in standard leagues, while failing to exceed 18 fantasy points in a single outing. Still, Ryan is the most prolific quarterback in Falcons' history by a vast margin (over 18,000 yards more than Steve Bartkowski), and he has displayed remarkable gutsiness by starting all 16 regular-season games during nine of his 10 NFL seasons. Thus far this offseason, the Falcons have remained relatively quiet in free agency, adding three new players on modest deals, all of whom are likely to fill backup roles (perhaps with the exception of recently acquired offensive guard Brandon Fusco). Atlanta hopes that this conservative approach will provide it with sufficient cap space to sign Ryan to a monster contract, as Kirk Cousins established a staggering precedent by signing with Minnesota on a three-year, fully guaranteed $84 million deal.
Ryan (personal) practiced in full Wednesday, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.
The reason for Ryan's absence Tuesday was explained as a personal matter by the organization, per McClure. Ryan wouldn't elaborate on the topic Wednesday, but his ability to log every practice rep returns the Falcons offense to status quo. Over the past four contests, including Saturday's wild-card win against the Rams, he's completed 62 percent of his passes, averaged nearly 259 yards per game and recorded four touchdowns versus one interception.
It's expected that Ryan, who missed the Falcons' first practice of the week Tuesday to attend to the personal matter, will be a full participant in Wednesday's session, given that he's not dealing with an injury. Since throwing three interceptions in the Falcons' Week 14 loss to the Saints, Ryan has bounced back nicely with a 4:1 TD:INT ratio, 62 percent completion rate and 7.3 yards per attempt over the past four contests, which includes Atlanta's wild-card win over the Rams last week.
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