Matt Ryan has three years to win the Super Bowl

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Ten yards. That’s all that separated Matt Ryan and his first Super Bowl in 2013. As all Falcons fans remember, Ryan and the Birds never made it those final ten yards, watching instead as San Francisco marched off to New Orleans to face the Ravens.Instead of a bitter 2013, though, things turned out pretty sweet for Ryan: in July, he signed a 5-year, $103 million dollar contract with the Falcons, a moved hailed by many and questioned by some. Ryan promptly went out and suffered through the team’s worst season of his tenure – a season that wasn’t Ryan’s fault. Injuries, poor roster building, and some overdue unlucky breaks derailed the Falcons in 2013. Now here we are in 2014, and as we assess the Falcons this year, one thing becomes pretty clear: Matt Ryan has a three-year window to win a Super Bowl.

Where’s my logic for that statement? It comes from the following numbers: $19,5000,000, $23, 750,000 and 2017.

The $19 million number is Ryan’s cap hit in 2015. The $23 million number is Ryan’s cap hit for 2016 and 2017. You can see the full numbers of his contract here, thanks to Sportrac. 2017, coincidentally, is the year the Falcons unveil their new nest (apparently with help from the Batman). Here’s where the logic comes in.

If Ryan hasn’t led the team to a Super Bowl between now and the new stadium opening, then his $23 million price tag will be jettisoned in favor of a younger, more dynamic QB who can fill seats in the new stadium.

I know what some of you are thinking. They just signed him to the contract last year. The Falcons haven’t even played this year. There are lots of other things to fix with this roster than QB. If anyone is going to be the fall guy for the Falcons’ failing to win, it’s going to be Mike Smith (followed closely by Thomas Dimitroff).

I understand. But here’s the thing.

Let’s say Smith and Dimitroff get canned because of lack-luster seasons, either this year or next. That means a new coach and a new GM coming in, and while Ryan is definitely one of the best signal-callers in the NFL (despite what Madden thinks) a $23 million dollar cap hit is a heck of a lot more money to spend on a player than $10 million* to watch him walk away.

So bottom line is, the Falcons have to win now with Ryan. If they don’t, his contract – and the reality of the changes losing would birth – tell us that Matty Ice won’t be opening the $1 billion football palace of 2017.

Suddenly, 2014 just got a lot more important, don’t you think?

*That’s the amount of dead money Ryan would leave on the books if the Falcons cut or trade him in 2017. For comparison, Ryan would leave $34 million in dead money if the Falcons cut or traded him in 2015, and $18 million if cut or traded in 2016.

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  • AFT

    Your brain is not working on all levels…scratch that…any level.

  • Jason Brooks

    AFT – I think my brain works just fine. But I’m always open to others smarter than me correcting my thinking, so walk me through your points of disagreement?

  • Peter Crawford

    No your brain is not working properly Mr. Brooks and the only point that need be brought up is that Matt Ryan IS currently one of the top Quarterbacks in The NFL who works very hard to keep improving himself and is consistent. Look at the numbers he put up in 2013 with no O Line and hence no run game and opposing defenses simply teeing off on him. Any organization that lets him walk because of team failings and a reasonable salary (in today’s market) is looking at the short term. A. Blank is NOT a short term thinking guy.

  • 48 year Falcon fanatic

    No way the Falcons trade or let Matt Ryan walk if he continues to be the leader and effective Quarterback he is. It was not Dan Marino’s fault that he never won a SB.

    • Jason Brooks

      If the team doesn’t meet expectations (especially defensively) over the next year or two, a lot of fans are going to come back to Matty Ice’s salary as a griping point. I know the cap is scheduled to rise over the next couple of years, but even at $75 million, Ryan is going to eat 1/3 of that number. Heaven help us if they sign Julio to a massive extension too.

      It’s got nothing to do with Ryan as a QB, good guy, leader, whatever – it’s money. And as rich as Mr. Blank is (and will continue to be, given the new stadium), he’s in the business to make money just as much as win championships.

  • Dana

    Ryan isnt going anywhere anytime soon hopefully if anyone even starts thinking about making a move like that I hope they will remember a QB called Favre and how he was once a Falcon….

  • JaxFalcon/DogFan

    Ryan is not Brett Favre. Arm strength is a factor now and will only get worse with age. Not arguing that he is good, but he’ll never get to the next level, regardless of the supporting cast around him.

  • Jason Brooks

    Not that one has anything to do with the other, but anybody else think $115 million for 6 years of Andy Dalton is a bit of stretch? And by bit of a stretch I mean completely insane?

  • Charles Brown

    I am a very definate critic of the falcons breakdown years, you get tired of hearing brag here or brag there, I say stop bragging and start performing no matter who the quarterback is, you are paid to win and the falcons have enough talent to win if all players had there head in it cause you never know what your shot is coming and you have to be prepared for when it does,,, I say leave Ryan alone and let him lead this team, and if it is a flop this season then think of your options, but don’t pressure the guy into a bad season money or no money.