Report: Falcons restructure Ryan’s contract for salary-cap reasons

Credit: AJC

Here's a quick look at some key stats for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for the 2020 season and his 13-year career.

Credit: AJC

In a move to get under the NFL’s $182.5 salary cap by the start of the new league business year at 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Falcons restructured quarterback Matt Ryan’s contract, according to Zach Klein of WSB.

The Falcons are now an estimated $3.5 million under the salary cap, according to The NFLPA, which is slow to update numbers, still lists the team as $20.9 million over the cap.

This is the fourth time that Ryan’s contract has been restructured since he signed a five-year, $150 million contract in May 2018.

The Falcons also recently restructured left tackle Jake Matthews’ contract by turning his $13 million base salary into a signing bonus, as previously reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ryan was due $23 million and took $21 million that was turned into a guaranteed bonus that could be spread over the final three years of his contract, Klein tweeted and cited an NFL league source.

Ryan, who had the highest cap number in the NFL at $40.9 million, now has a cap number of $26.9 million.

After cutting veterans Ricardo Allen, Allen Bailey and James Carpenter, the Falcons will turn their attention to restructuring contracts and perhaps to granting contract extensions to create the additional space.

The Falcons were $14.2 million over the cap, according to NFLPA documents as of Thursday evening.

Since then, strong safety Keanu Neal did not receive the franchise tag and is headed to free agency. Free safety Damontae Kazee’s agent told the AJC that he was moving on. Center Alex Mack is weighing his options, which possibly include retirement.

Kazee has drawn some interests from the Cowboys, who hired former Falcons coach Dan Quinn to be their defensive coordinator.

On Thursday, the Falcons signed four of five exclusive-rights free agents in Pro Bowl kicker Younghoe Koo, defensive end Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, cornerback Tyler Hall and wide receiver Christian Blake. The fifth, tight end Jaeden Graham, signed Friday.

The Falcons placed the $3.384 million second-round tender on restricted free agent Matt Gono, an offensive lineman, on Monday.

The Falcons are 18-30 since Ryan signed his contract in May 2018. The Falcons went 7-9, 7-9 and 4-12 because they struck out in the NFL draft and in free agency.

When Ryan signed his extension in 2018 it was the richest contract for a quarterback. More than a handful of deals have been signed since that surpass the former NFL MVP’s annual $30 million salary.

Recently, the Cowboys signed Dak Prescott to a $160 million, four-year contract with $126 million guaranteed and an NFL-record $66 million signing bonus.

At $40 million per season, Prescott ranks second in the NFL in annual salary to Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who is at $45 million annually in a $450 million, 10-year deal that eventually could exceed $500 million in value. Houston’s Deshaun Watson is third at $39 million annually.

Ryan, who becomes a free agent in 2024, now falls to ninth on the list of top moneymakers.

The Ryan move will help to pay for the Falcons’ nine-member rookie class, which is slotted to receive $12.55 million.

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