The Falcons appear to have hit a snag while hashing out a lucrative contract extension for quarterback Matt Ryan.
“I couldn’t even put a (timetable on it). I don’t know how close we are,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said on Wednesday. “I can’t. We talk about it and it seems like things are right around the corner.”
The free agency quarterback market has settled, clearing the path for a Ryan deal.
If Jimmy Garoppolo is worth $27.5 million per year and Kirk Cousins is worth $28 million per year, then what is Ryan worth?
“A new contract for (Green Bay’s Aaron) Rodgers is on the horizon this offseason,” wrote CBS Sports business analysis Joel Corry, a former agent. “At the very least, (Minnesota’s Kirk) Cousins has given Rodgers and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who is entering his contract year, the ammunition to become charter members of the $30-million-per-year club. The Jets reportedly made Cousins a $30-million-per-year offer.”
Ryan is a former league MVP winner who’s been to the playoff six times and has one Super Bowl appearance. Garoppolo and Cousins have never been to the playoffs.
So, while the Falcons hammer out Ryan’s market value, they’ll sit up against the cap. They’ll get $3.5 million relief from Levine Toilolo’s contract, as he was released with a post June 1 designation.
The big deal for the Falcons was Drew Brees re-signing with the Saints reportedly a two-year, $50-million deal. Now, his agent Tom Condon, who also represents Ryan, can finish his dealings with the franchise.
Both sides talked back at the NFL combine and it was expected to be a short negotiation that could end with a six-year extension in the $180 million range for Ryan, who’s arguably the best quarterback in franchise history.
“I understand that there is no real rush on it right now,” Dimitroff said. “It’s not like we are worried about free agency. The only rush on it is getting everyone comfortable so that we can continue to focus on the upcoming season.”
Not getting Ryan’s deal done had kept the Falcons out of the free agency market. But the team contends that they don’t have any major holes that they wanted to fill in free agency.
“We adhered to the plan that we had,” Dimitroff said. “We knew we had a big signing and work to do on Matt of course. With any organization dealing with an upper-echelon quarterback, it’s predicated, not the deal, as I said before, you have to be creative with how you do that.
“We mapped out a lot of different strategies as far as how we were going to maintain, signing our players back, which was our No. 1 (goal).”
The Falcons gave early contract extensions to cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, who could have free agents in the class. They were also able to re-sign kicker Matt Bryant.
“Going into this year and bringing back Matt Bryant was huge,” Dimitroff said. “He’s a clutch player. He’s one of our most valuable players on our team. He’s one of them. That was important of us to get him back. We are focusing on guys that we know are pillar type players on our football team.”
The Falcons added guard Brandon Fusco in free agency. He was signed to a three-year, $12.75 million deal.
“With Fusco coming in, we’re excited about him joining our offensive line,” Dimitroff said. “It’s going to be a really competitive situation at the right guard this year between Wes (Schweitzer) and (Brandon). I think having Fusco in here, he’s got a lot of starts in this league and that adds to our offensive line.”
Cornerback Justin Bethlel and defensive end Pernell McPhee have also visited the Falcons.
“He’s another guy along the front,” Dimitroff said of McPhee. “We lost a couple of guys along the front. We are going to continue, as we do on the offensive side, to make sure that we have rotational depth along the defensive line. He’s got a lot of experience. Of course, we haven’t signed him yet, but we are interested in speaking with him.”
Dimitroff still doesn’t believe that the Ryan deal is complex.
“I think we have a pretty good idea, that’s why I made a comment that it wasn’t a complicated deal,” Dimitroff said. “I think we have an idea about what the ranges are and what that window of negotiation is and should be.
“I’ve never been concerned about that. I know that we’ve had good conversations and will continue to have good conversations. I’m not concerned about finalizing it.”
Ryan’s deal would free up money to sign Bethel or McPhee.
“There’s no time frame on it,” Dimitroff insisted. “I think the biggest things for them at one time was to see what was going on in the market. That had kind of come and gone, right now. We’ll continue to talk about how to get it finalized.”
The Falcons have not reached out to Ryan to hopefully speed things along.
“Here’s how it goes, with agents we don’t want to muddy the waters,” Dimitroff said. “Ultimately, the player is a team guy. There is no illegalities of talking to Matt Ryan, myself or Dan Quinn. Of course, we’ve had a talk here and there about the future, but as far as getting involved and trying to push wedges into an negotiation, no because we have a good working relationship with Tom Condon.
“So, I’m not concerned about that. As far as the discussions with Matt, Matt knows what this team is about. He knows what he can do for this team at a number of levels. He knows that he’s right up against the third contract in the NFL and those are big contracts and significant discussion points. He’s very aware of that and he’s aware of everyone on the team being aware of it.”
Ryan, apparently, wants to get the deal done, too.
“He doesn’t want to be a distraction,” Dimitroff said. “Ultimately, he’s a team guy through and through. Hopefully, we can move through this soon and get this done.”
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