Matt Ryan agreed to a historic deal with the Falcons on Thursday. The five-year contract extension makes him the first player to secure $30 million per season as well as the first to net $100 million guaranteed at signing. Three thoughts…
1. Over the last year, five quarterbacks have claimed the mantle of top-paid passer in the NFL (in chronological order: Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins, Ryan). I think it’s safe to call Ryan the most deserving of that title, as the only MVP winner or Super Bowl participant among the bunch. He is not often mentioned in the discussion of top-tier QBs, but Ryan leads the league in yards per attempt over the last three years, and over the last five seasons, he’s right there with Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Russell Wilson in that category.
2. Today offers an interesting opportunity to look at the competition between Ryan and Joe Flacco, 10 years and a week after they went third and 18th overall, respectively, in the 2008 draft. Or should I say what had been a competition? Flacco finished with a higher rating than Ryan in two of their first three seasons and won a Super Bowl the same year Ryan got his first playoff victory. Now, though, Flacco seems at risk of losing his job to rookie Lamar Jackson while Ryan has been locked up into the next decade.
3. Ryan likely knows that he might not be the league’s highest-paid player by the time the ink dries on his deal. Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said Thursday that he expects to “come to an agreement soon” with Aaron Rodgers. And even with Rodgers’s recent injury history, the deal Ryan signed is only a floor on what Green Bay will likely give its guy.
NOW ON THE MMQB: Farewell, Peter. You made the first five years of The MMQB special (and now we look forward to the next five years of The MMQB) … Jenny Vrentas considers the possible end of the kickoff … Albert Breer finds out about the Cardinals’ comfort with Josh Rosen … and more.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Peter King wrote about the Browns’ latest QB gamble … Chris Ballard chronicled a gathering of 49ers greats for an ailing teammate … Michael McCann explained how Eric Reid could win his collusion grievance … and more.
1. The Washington organization is under fire following a New York Times report that the team’s cheerleaders felt like management was “pimping us out” to suite holders and sponsor representatives—all men—during a trip to Costa Rica. The director of the franchise’s cheerleader program largely disputed the claims that the women were forced to pose topless in front of the guests and to escort them to a party.
2. At a meeting to discuss the league’s new helmet-lowering rule, NFL officials reportedly told participants that games last year included an average of five would-be violations of the rule. Mark Maske has more details.
3. Eagles defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan could miss a chunk of the 2018 season after undergoing surgery last week for a herniated disc that he suffered during an offseason workout.
4. SB Nation and law professor Arthur R. Miller did their best to answer any questions you might have about Eric Reid filing a collusion grievance against the NFL.
5. “After much self-reflection, prayer and faith, today I’ve decided that the time has come for me to pass the torch to the next generation of Dallas Cowboys and retire from the National Football League,” Jason Witten said Thursday. You can read his full speech here, or just wait to hear him on a Monday Night football broadcast soon.
6. Thirty-five-year-old linebacker Derrick Johnson has spent his whole carer with the Chiefs, but there’s now a possibility he heads to their division rival in Oakland.
7. Recently retired coach Bruce Arians has found a new gig, calling games for CBS.
8. The Lions sent defensive tackle Akeem Spence to the Dolphins for a 2019 seventh-rounder.
9. Panthers defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller has resigned, with head coach Ron Rivera saying “it’s a complicated situation.”
10. Christian Hackenberg has reportedly decided to “start from scratch” and rebuild his throwing motion. There’s obviously no rush for the Jets QB now that three passers sit above him on the team’s depth chart.
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