The Baltimore Ravens waited for quarterback Joe Flacco’s contract to run out and got themselves a Super Bowl title.
That also cost them millions of dollars when they eventually re-signed Flacco to a six-year $120.6 million deal after last season. With Flacco taking up such a big part of the salary cap, the Ravens have seen an offseason purge of other veterans.
The Atlanta Falcons were watching all this and they should have learned something. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is in the exact same situation as Flacco was this time a year ago -- headed into the final year of his rookie contract.
Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, recently said he has “no sympathy’’ for the Ravens losing some veterans this offseason because they could have prevented that by locking up Flacco last year. Linta said the sides were close, but things got held up due to a dispute about $1 million late in the contract. That prompted Flacco to play out his rookie deal and the final season of that undoubtedly drove up his price tag.
The Falcons simply can’t afford to do the same thing with Ryan. They need to get him locked up this offseason.
I think it will happen. General manager Thomas Dimitroff is a smart guy and he’s expressed optimism about getting a deal done. He also has expressed a need to be creative with the structure of Ryan’s contract.
There’s nothing wrong with that. If the Falcons can get Ryan signed for the long term now, they can make the deal relatively cap friendly.
If they wait too long and Ryan goes out and delivers anything close to the season Flacco did, the price tag is going to shoot up on the quarterback and a good chunk of the roster will be forced to leave.