Ryan, Falcons open camp with new contract terms
by George Henry
Associated Press Sports Writer
July 26, 2013 12:01 AM | 1135 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan got to work as training camp opened Thursday, not long after signing a five-year deal to remain with the team. Fulfilling a desire to avoid the distraction of negotiations during the season, Ryan agreed to a reported $103.75 million, with an average of more than $20 million coming his way over the first three years.
<BR>Associated Press photo
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan got to work as training camp opened Thursday, not long after signing a five-year deal to remain with the team. Fulfilling a desire to avoid the distraction of negotiations during the season, Ryan agreed to a reported $103.75 million, with an average of more than $20 million coming his way over the first three years.
Associated Press photo
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FLOWERY BRANCH — Now that he’s wearing a $100 million smile, quarterback Matt Ryan is ready to get back to work for the Atlanta Falcons.

“I’ve always not worried about the business side of it,” Ryan said. “I really think as a player, if you’re hung up or worried about that or thinking about all those things, you’re taking away from what you should be doing.”

Ryan and the Falcons agreed to a five-year contract extension Thursday that was being finalized as he led the offense through practice on the first day of training camp.

A person familiar with the situation says Ryan’s extension is for $103.75 million, with $59 million guaranteed. The person said Ryan will average $20.75 million during the first three years of the extension. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms of the deal had not been announced.

Ryan, 28, is entering the sixth and final season of his original rookie contract and will earn a $10 million salary.

The NFL’s No. 3 overall draft pick of 2008, last season Ryan was invited to the Pro Bowl for the second time. He completed 68.6 percent of his passes, tops in the NFL.

“I’d say right now that we’re glad that we didn’t go defensive tackle with the third pick back in 2008,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff. “I’m excited to have Matt on board for many years to come. Matt provides us with all the requisite traits, on the field as we know, and we feel he does that off the field. He’s a quality person.”

Ryan rallied Atlanta to victory six times last season, giving him 22 career game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime — most in the league since he was named the league’s offensive rookie of the year in 2008.

The quarterback is 56-22 in his NFL career, but dropped to 1-4 in the playoffs after the Falcons lost the NFC title game at home to San Francisco six months ago.

Coach Mike Smith believes that losing those big games has only made Ryan more committed to his work ethic of being one of the first to arrive each day and one of the last to leave.

“Matt is the type of the leader that you want to have on your team,” Smith said. “I say it all the time — you win in the locker room first — and you’ve got to have guys like Matt Ryan that have the drive and the passion to be the best that they can be. That’s probably the best trait that Matt has.”

Ryan’s agent, Tom Condon, also represents Drew Brees and Peyton Manning — veteran NFL quarterbacks who signed big contracts last year. The New Orleans Saints guaranteed Brees $60.5 million and the Denver Broncos guaranteed Manning $58 million.

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title in February, signed the richest contract in league history, a six-year deal worth $120.6 million that guarantees $52 million.

Flacco had leverage for a better contract because he was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, the NFL’s No. 2 career leading receiver, credited Ryan for being a big reason he wanted to come to Atlanta in 2009 and to be lured out of retirement in March.

“He had a big smile on his face today, I’ll tell you that — and for a good reason, too,” Gonzalez said with a grin. “But I couldn’t be happier for him. He deserves it. The franchise deserves him. I know everybody’s happy that it got done, and he doesn’t have to worry about it now.”

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