FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes a look at how Matt Ryan did everything the Falcons needed and what his new contract could mean for the NFL.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
*AJC: *The Falcons asked Matt Ryan to save their franchise. He did
After a decade of memorable performances, the Falcons awarded quarterback Matt Ryan with a contract that reportedly makes him the league's highest-paid player. Looking back on how Ryan's career began in Atlanta, Mark Bradley of *The Atlanta Journal-Constitution *says it's clear that he's been everything the franchise needed in a quarterback.
"He's the exact definition of a franchise quarterback," Bradley writes. "The Falcons drafted him No. 3 overall a decade ago. He has since started every game save two, both absences coming in 2009. He has taken them to the playoffs six times in 10 seasons. He has presided over six seasons of 10-plus wins. He has led them to the Super Bowl and a 28-3 lead therein. He was rookie of the year. He has made the Pro Bowl four times. He has been MVP."
Ryan joined an organization that had just hired a first-year head coach and general manager, and he helped guide the Falcons to a playoff appearance in his first season. He's followed up his debut performance with many mesmerizing performances, leading the team both on and off the field.
With a new contract in place, the Falcons and Ryan will be together for the foreseeable future, working to continue this incredible run.
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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
Yahoo Sports: What Ryan's contract could mean for other top QBs
A popular line of phrasing for whenever another quarterback signs a mega contract is something along the lines of: "The NFL's highest-paid player will be the next quarterback to sign a new deal." After Ryan's new contract, Yahoo Sports' Terez Paylor has already begun wondering what it could mean for the next quarterbacks in line for a new deal.
"Ryan's deal is notable because, while lucrative, it isn't fully guaranteed like the three-year, $84 million pact that free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins signed with Minnesota in March, which some hoped could usher in a new era of fully guaranteed salaries," Paylor writes. "But Ryan's deal, which came with a year left on the 32-year-old's contract, offers proof that Cousins' deal was a perfect storm, of sorts, one that could be replicated only if a quarterback currently under contract was willing to do what so few are — play on the franchise tag, twice, then hit free agency (since franchising a player three times is salary cap-prohibitive to NFL teams)."
In Paylor's piece, he notes that Aaron Rodgers is likely to be the next quarterback to surpass Ryan's latest deal. It is also mentioned that Carzon Wentz is another player who could see that type of money before his first deal is up, while Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott may have to do what Kirk Cousins did and try to find a big deal on the open market.
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