BIRDLAND – The cost of playing quarterback in the NFL just went up for league owners.
With the New Orleans Saints signing Drew Brees to a five-year, $100 million contract on Friday, the ancillary beneficiaries include Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Dallas’ Tony Romo. Their contracts expire in 2013. Down the road a bit, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford and Carolina’s Cam Newton should also benefit.
Ryan, who’s set to make a base salary of $11.5 million this season and $10 million next season, is nearing the end of a six-year, $72 million deal.
Ryan still has time to set his value. He wasn’t selected by the players as one of the top 100 players in the league. However, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski selected him as the 11th rated quarterback in the league.
Under general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons have made it a practice to re-sign players to contract extensions in the last year of their deals if they plan to retain them.
Last season, tight end Tony Gonzalez received an extension. In 2010, with the labor strife, the Falcons did not offer any extensions. In 2008, they extended defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux and wide receiver Michael Jenkins.
Ryan has posted a 43-19 record in four seasons with the Falcons. He was drafted in the first round (third overall) of the 2008 NFL draft. He has guided them to the playoffs in three of his four seasons, but is 0-3.
The bulk of guaranteed money in Ryan’s contract was paid out in 2011, when he earned a $22 million roster bonus on top of his $10.25 million salary.
“Of course, Drew Brees’ $60 [million] guarantee is half of [former Atlanta Hawk] Joe Johnson’s $120M and one quarter of [baseball player] Albert Pujols’ $240M; some perspective,” wrote former NFL executive Andrew Brandt in a tweet. He used to negotiate the contracts for the Green Bay Packers.
Brandt added that the key to Brees’ contact was that Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos for $18 million in 2012 and noted that if he passes his 2013 physical a $40 million guarantee would be activated, giving him a $58 million guarantee.
Other top quarterbacks like Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New England’s Tom Brady, also stand to benefit from Brees’ deal. Rogers, who is under contract for the next three seasons, has a contract that averages $8 million.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog