Thoughts on Devonta Freemans $41.25 Million Contract

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk just broke the official numbers for Devonta Freeman’s $41.25 million contract extension which gives us a chance to look at it and offer some thoughts. Overall I like the contract for Freeman which I think is an excellent illustration of how to use contract structures to get over the hump of the full guarantee at signing. However, it is also clear that this is not the top contract on the market, though it is very close.

From Freeman’s perspective here is what I really like about the contract- a huge signing bonus relative to the P5 values of the contract at the frontend of the contract. This is the old way that contracts were done which always did a far better job insulating a player from release than the more current system of high P5s with two years of full guarantees. A large part of that is the Falcons front office which skews towards the older style of cap management, which is both a blessing and a curse.

Freeman’s $15 million signing bonus is nearly 70% of the takehome of the first three contract years and 56% of the first three new years of the contract. Those are really terrific numbers. The next closest to that is LeSean McCoy at 48% of his three year value. The rest of the top veteran backs are extremely low percentages, basically between 10 and 30%.

That should mean that Freeman is a lock to earn the new $20.25 million in the contract from 2017 through 2019. He would have to fall so far off a cliff for a team to consider cutting him to save all of $3.75 million given the initial investment in 2019 and even if they did that P5 is so low that he would likely earn $1M as a free agent if it ever came to that. So I think this is very solid and will now be a fundamental starting point for Le’Veon Bell next year when working off percentages to try to maximize his signing bonus with the Steelers.

Now immediately when I saw the numbers the name that came to mind is McCoy of the Bills. It’s pretty clear from the structure that they followed the Bills model with him very closely, but Atlanta more or less used a classic trick of throwing some backend money in the deal to inflate the APY. This allows Freeman to be considered the “highest paid” but realistically he won’t be.

PlayerYear 0Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5
Devonta Freeman$14,500,000$16,500,000$20,250,000$26,750,000$33,000,000$41,250,000
LeSean McCoy$0$16,000,000$21,050,000$27,300,000$33,625,000$40,050,000

For the most part Freeman will trail McCoy by about $600,000 each year in total earnings.  It’s rare for players to reach the 5th contract year, especially running backs, but Freeman needs that season to surpass McCoy in earnings. So while the Falcons were willing to budge on the APY they negotiated the contract in a way that was more beneficial to them and one in which they feel they are not the real market setter at the position.

Still the contract blows away the likes of Doug Martin and Lamar Miller who would be the next set of veterans. It’s a strong deal and probably far stronger than he would have found in free agency where interest in running backs has been lukewarm at best.  This is the right fit for his skillset and for the Falcons as well which is why its worth making the deal rather than dealing with the uncertainty for the year and ending up with someone else next year.

His cap hits are generally manageable until 2020 which is the first real uncertain season. By then the team should have its core locked up for the future and will be able to move away from some of the higher ticket items that might clog their cap. If they can get two very good and one decent year out of Freeman they should be happy even if they have to cut him in 2020.

Falcons 2015 Salary Cap Outlook


Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $21.9 million ($140M cap limit)

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 53
Pro Bowlers: 2
Unrestricted Free Agents: 19(4 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 8

Salary Cap Breakdown

Falcons 2015 Salary Cap

Falcons 2015 Salary Cap

Falcons 2015 Salary Cap

Free Agents to Re-sign

There is no need for the Falcons to look for another kicker regardless of Matt Bryant’s age. Bryant is still effective and can still drive the football in the dome. With all the holes they may have to fill worrying about kicker is not one of them. He should sign for around $3 million…I believe the Falcons should consider bringing back Corey Peters in 2015. Peters is talented and played well when given the opportunity as he worked his way back from injury. He can provide some interior pass rush which the Falcons lack. The difficult part in keeping him is that the Falcons signed outrageous deals with Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai and there is no reason for him to earn a penny less, which might make a tough negotiation…I don’t know if there is any potential in Antone Smith being more than a handful of snaps a game player, but he has the capability to make huge plays and considering he should cost little I can’t see the harm in not bringing him back…Dwight Lowery can be retained as a lower cost option to provide a veteran presence in the secondary.

Free Agents to Let Walk

The Osi Umenyiora marriage has been a rocky one and I can’t see any possible reason to continue that relationship unless an old Giants coach becomes a coach in Atlanta. He can find a job as a situational pass rusher in a better situation than this one….I can see making a case to keep Sean Weatherspoon on a one year contract, but at the same time he is always hurt and I’m usually in favor of turning the page on such players…I can’t see making a case for keeping Kroy Biermann. Too often he is a liability and moving on gives the team a chance to focus on improvement through better players not by hoping an old one somehow improves…The Falcons learned what many others have about Gabe Carimi and its time to wave good bye to the offensive lineman.

Contracts to Modify

There is probably little need for Atlanta to wait on re-signing Julio Jones, unless they just want to see how the wide receiver market shakes out this season. Jones will make $10.176 million and the Falcons can improve their cap position and future contract flexibility by doing a deal with him sooner rather than later…The Falcons have made a number of bad contract decisions in recent years, none of which were probably worse than the decision to extend Sam Baker. Baker has a $7.3 million cap charge but will cost the Falcons $1.9 million more than that if released. Baker’s market value is close to nothing so I think it makes more sense to redo his deal close to the minimum with some incentives than cut him or carry the cap hit until June 1.

Players to Consider Releasing

Steven Jackson is set to earn $3.75 million in 2015 and while I think there can be a place for him next season, it probably makes more sense to cycle that money into more pressing needs and give more carries to the younger guys. Jackson has underperformed expectations for two years….Joe Hawley carries a $4 million cap charge and the team can save $3 million with his release.

Offseason Plan

The Falcons spent more than any other team in the NFL in 2014 following a number of extensions and free agent signings, yet they still ended up with a losing record and out of the playoffs. Atlanta reminds me a great deal of the San Diego Chargers of the mid to late 2000’s. They built this terrific team where it seemed everything clicked and that they were the next great dynasty. But they could never advance enough in the playoffs and soon the GM who could do no wrong could do no right and the Chargers became an eternal 7 to 9 win team. That is where the Falcons are now and a big reason why we saw Atlanta shake up the front office and staff to help shift responsibilities around.

In recent years the Falcons have assembled a collection of players, most on player friendly contracts, that don’t seem to necessarily mesh well on the field. But they are stuck with most of the players and it brings up an interesting question as to where to go with the team next season. Matt Ryan is in the prime of his career but it seems clear that he is not the level of player that can carry a team on his back through a rough patch. That’s ok as there are only a handful of players that can do that, but it put’s Atlanta in the spot where they have to consider free agency again.

With just mid tier cap space they will likely need to craft more player friendly deals if they really want to go after any of the biggest free agents. That can lead to more problems if the results are similar to what they have now. I’d almost think that their best option in 2015 is to target question mark free agents where you might be able to land the player on a one year moderate cost contract that you can use to hold down the fort while you develop young players from within. Of course all those players come with major risk and if you are not keeping a Weatherspoon then why consider a Brian Orakpo?

Regardless of what defense they run next season they desperately need pass rushers on the defensive line and/or linebacker. The current group of players they have are all better suited to a 34 and using them in that manner might be the easiest way to get better production on the defense. I would imagine they will need to target both the draft and free agency to turn around the front 7. They also need help in the secondary, so it’s a big task to fix this group.

On offense they need to find help on the line and for the short term need an upgrade at tight end to help Ryan. Ryan is so used to playing with a quality player at that position that it really hurt him to not have anyone of note there. Getting a Julius Thomas would be a mistake but a Charles Clay would be a lower cost decent fill in with some nice upside. The team also is going to need a younger wide receiver to eventually pair with Jones, but I don’t think that can come in the draft this season. They should be able to get by with their players next season and wait until the following year.

Not getting the division title was probably a good thing for Atlanta. It gave them a much higher draft pick and allowed them to easily let go of a coach whose bad decision making went back to the good years. They play in what is a cupcake division and have a solid enough QB so the jump back to a winning team might not be that big but they have to do a far better job in free agency, the draft, and veteran contract decisions than what they have done the last few years.

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Falcons Release Asante Samuel and Stephen Nicholas


The Falcons announced the release of CB Asante Samuel and OLB Stephen Nicholas today, marking the official start of release season for the NFL.

Samuel was scheduled to earn $3.5 million in base salary plus a possible $1 million in roster bonus money that was dependent on games active. He will now count for just $750,000 in dead money and free up slightly over $4 million in cap room for the Falcons. Nicholas was set to earn $3 million and his release will create $2 million in cap room. He was sparingly used in 2013 on defense this an easy decision for the Falcons.

As of Monday I estimated the Falcons to have around $7 million in cap room. They should now be around $12 million under the projected salary cap once we factor in the costs of two replacement players for Samuel and Nicholas.

You can keep up with our potential salary cap cuts by following the link in the right menu




A Look at Falcons WR Roddy White


There was a report Thursday from Ian Rapoport of that the Falcons are thinking about an extension for Wide Receiver Roddy White. White has been a tremendous bargain for the Falcons since signing a contract extension in 2009, averaging 98 receptions and 1,297 yards from 2009 through 2012 while earning $8.54 million per year. Because the Falcons extended him while he was in the final year of his rookie contract his salary cap charges have never exceeded $9.125 million and he has never really been a salary cap burden at a premier pay position.

However, White has struggled with injuries in 2013 and at 32 years of age there could be real worry about significant decline in performance. He will finish 2013 with his worst statistical production since his rookie season and possibly his career- White has just 20 receptions for 209 yards with 6 games to go.  With the Falcons and White suffering through a poor season I had assumed that the Falcons would either let White play out his contract, which I had listed at a relatively low cap number of $6.325 million, or release White and move on.

I was reminded via Twitter by contract expert Joel Corry that White has escalators in the final year of his contract. I was able to confirm through a source with knowledge of the contract that the escalators do exist and are tied to Pro Bowl appearances and workout participation.  The escalator can total $5 million and while the actual breakdown was not told to me I would think Pro Bowls from 2009-2011 would lead to him earning at least $3 million of the escalator. It probably means his real salary cap number will be anywhere from $9 million to $11.325 million in 2014.

Those numbers are probably unsustainable for the Falcons 2014 salary cap and would force them into releasing White.  With QB Matt Ryan struggling and the possibility of TE Tony Gonzalez retiring Atlanta may not want to completely break up the White/Gonzalez/Julio Jones group that had been so successful before injuries to White and Jones in 2013. Atlanta has so much invested in Ryan that giving him familiar targets is almost a necessity moving forward.

What might an extension for White cost?  In general the market has not been kind to older receivers and White will likely push at the high end to try to match the Panthers 4 year contract extension with Steve Smith signed in 2012 when Smith was 33 years old. Smith had struggled in 2009 and 2010 for a number of reasons but rebounded greatly in 2011 with the addition of QB Cam Newton, putting up his best statistical season since 2008. With a high salary cap charge in 2012 the Panthers awarded Smith with a $7.5 million a year extension that was designed to be as much about cap relief and a safety blanket for the QB than anything else.

Though White is coming from a negative statistical year his performances leading up to that poor year are superior to what Smith accomplished in 2009 and 2010 at 30 and 31 years of age.  Likewise he will have a large cap number and a QB in need of a familiar face in the offense. The low end of the spectrum would be around the $5.8 million that Reggie Wayne signed last year with the Indianapolis Colts.


The important part for the Falcons is how to structure the contract so that they are not stuck with an older unproductive player. While it is important for the short term to keep White, long term White may not be a major part of the offense. There have been plenty of productive players in the past at the position through the years including Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Jimmy Smith, Reggie Wayne, Keyshawn Johnson,  Joey Galloway, and Donald Driver among others. Atlanta may be a bit more cautious in their approach as more recent cases have not been as productive. Wayne suffered a knee injury this season, Smith is not going to be as dominant this season, Santana Moss has not been productive in Washington. Anquan Boldin looks finished and Randy Moss was done the day he turned 33.  Factor in injuries this season and the Falcons may want to take a very risk averse approach to a contract.

Considering the season he will be coming off of I would think a 3 year extension makes the most sense for both sides. If executed in week 17 the Falcons can prorate money for a full five years whereas waiting until next year would mean just 4 year of prorating money or signing a 4 year extension. A 4 year contract could potentially up the guaranteed money as the contract should see somewhere between 45 and 49% of the total new money come in the form of guarantees.

For the sake of argument let’s say White earns somewhere between Wayne and Smith and call it a contract worth $6.8 million a year with $10.2 million of it guaranteed, We’ll also assume that his salary next season is expected to be $8 million making this a 4 years of contract  worth $28.4 million.  What might be a possible structure?




Existing Bonus

Extension Bonus












































Don’t pay attention to the 2013 numbers as this is just a bonus dump year with money already earned so I didnt bother putting in his current P5. What we did here is just add $1 million in cap charges to his non-escalated 2014 salary cap number. That should be a reasonable amount. The 2014 salary would be fully guaranteed and we would also guarantee $200,000 of the 2015 salary. Those numbers can be played with for cap purposes, but I like the idea of only having around $3 million in dead money in 2015 if 2014 ends up being similar to 2013 in terms of injuries and performance.

When the extension kicks in I want to begin including per game active roster bonuses to protect from injuries keeping White from playing in the event he is still productive. The low cap charge in 2015 should work to benefit both sides. At that point Julio Jones will either be playing on a franchise tag or in the first year of a very lucrative contract extension. With such a low cap figure the Falcons may consider keeping White even if he has a mediocre (by his standards) 2014 campaign. The odds of White seeing year 2016 and 2017 are pretty slim and dead money fits accordingly with that.

In the end this will cost the Falcons $14.5 million in 2014 and 2015 to keep White on the team. If our $3 million escalator guess is correct that boils down to a 1 year $6.5 million dollar deal. That’s perfectly acceptable to help the teams salary cap and hopefully keep a Falcon in one uniform for his entire career.



What Teams Will Gain in Cap Space with the June 1 Cut


With June 1 rapidly approaching I thought this would be a good time to update on the salary cap changes that will occur for a number of teams as well as some other thoughts on the subject. On June 1 the league changes their accounting rules for acceleration of prorated bonus money. If a player is cut prior to June 1 all of a players unaccounted for bonus money accelerates onto the salary cap. If a player is cut after June 1 the players unaccounted for money accelerates to the following season (in this case 2014) with only his current proration remaining on the 2013 cap books.

The NFL allows teams to cut up to two players prior to June 1 and designate them “June 1 cuts”. If this mechanism is used the team carries the players’ full cap charge in their top 51 until June 1. On June 2 the player is officially removed from the roster with only his current years proration remaining on the books and in many cases a dramatic increase in cap space for cap starved teams that need to sign rookies or have money on hand for in season roster management. 10 teams utilized the June 1 designation, with the Dolphins being the only team to use it on two players.

For many of the teams the money is desperately needed. The Oakland Raiders have yet to sign a draft pick as they remain right around the NFL’s cap limit, but on June 2 their cap will grow to about $7.86 million after Michael Huff drops off the books. The Steelers with almost no breathing room and less than $600,000 in cap room with 4 picks to sign will now have $5.59 million to spend, due to the June 1 treatment of Willie Colon. The Chargers, the other cap strapped team with less than $1 million in room, will remove Jared Gaither to jump to $4.65 million in cap space.  The other teams with limited cap funds that will benefit from the June 1 rule are the Falcons and Ravens, both of whom currently have around $2 million in cap space.

Other teams such as the Bills and Dolphins will see large increases that will jump them very close to the top of the NFL in cap space. The Dolphins will jump from 15th to 7th in the NFL in cap space while the Bills will go from 7th to 5th. This is primarily because of the large cap investments that the teams’ made in mediocre players. Ryan Fitzpatrick current sits as the 2nd largest cap charge on the Bills active roster while Karlos Dansby has the highest cap figure of any Dolphin. Huff of the Raiders also ranks as the highest cap charge on his team.

Most of the players are all good enough to find another job in the NFL, only Gaither has not found a team willing to take him, but only 5 received multi-year contracts and the highest cap charge to be found is Tyson Clabo, now of the Dolphins, at $3.5 million. The June 1 rule really illustrates the mistakes that teams make when valuing players and structuring contracts. While Dansby, Huff, and Fitzpatrick were outrageous figures, 6 of the June 1 cuts still take up a top 5 cap spot on the active roster and 9 are in the top 10. The following table shows the amount of estimated cap space that was to be spent on these players, dead money the teams will carry, and how much cap new teams are going to pay these players this season:



Original Cap Charge


2013 Dead Money


2014 Dead Money


New Team 2013 Cap


So the cutting teams will carry more dead money this year than the players will collectively make from their new teams to play in the NFL. The league valued these players at 74.3% less than the teams original projections. Assuming that the average salary for the group in 2014 is $1 million each then those players will play football over a 2 year period for 50% less than the dead money totals that the original teams will now carry in 2013 and 2014. That’s one of the reasons why when we do some of the valuations on the site from a team perspective we try to take into account future productivity as this was, for the most part, money thrown away on players. These are the type of contracts that get General Managers fired over the long run.

As for the June 1 cuts themselves here is the list of players that will be removed on June 2 and what the projected cap totals for the teams will be based on the official salary cap numbers as of May 28, 2013.


Current Charge

New Charge


New Team Cap Space

James AndersonPanthers





Michael HuffRaiders





Bernard PollardRavens





Ryan FitzpatrickBills





Karlos DansbyDolphins





Kevin BurnettDolphins





Willie ColonSteelers





Jared GaitherChargers





Tyson ClaboFalcons





Marcus SpearsCowboys





Adam SnyderCardinals






The Options for Falcons QB Matt Ryan


With training camp just a short time away we will be turning our attention more towards potential extensions of pending free agents. One of the most prominent, and currently in the early stages of negotiating a deal, is QB Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons.

Ryan is almost the perfect prospect. He was highly regarded coming out of Boston College, selected 3rd overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. He has been to the playoffs in 4 of his 5 seasons in  the NFL and the only year his team missed the playoffs was his second year when he was injured and missed two games, both of which the Falcons lost. His record as a starter is an impressive 56-22 and only once has he not finished with double digit wins. From a statistical standpoint he is an incredible QB and his numbers have shown a steady progression in his time in the NFL.

I don’t think that it’s even arguable that he is the best QB drafted since 2006 and in terms of being effective since day 1 you might be able to state the case that he is the best QB drafted since Tom Brady in 2001 and the best 1st round player since Peyton Manning  in 1998. Obviously that discussion includes Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Ben Roethlisberger, but in terms of playing at a high level from the start he is going to be better than Manning and Roethlisberger and was as high end statistically accomplished as Rodgers in the same time frame.

Of course the one thing missing from Ryan’s resume that all of those players have is a championship. It is going to be a major factor in pricing Ryan. I think the NFL has changed a lot since the early 2000’s when Peyton was always higher regarded and paid than Brady as the debate ranged between how one guy “just wins” and the other puts up great numbers. Since then, however, winning the big one has catapulted QBs into a game of leapfrog where each players new deal becomes the largest contract in the history of the NFL. Roethlisberger set a market after winning a Super Bowl. Eli jumped him and was then in turn jumped by Brady and Manning who were jumped by Drew Brees. Joe Flacco set a new bar fresh off his Super Bowl win while Aaron Rodgers then set the new threshold soon thereafter.

The problem for Ryan is that none of these players have gotten paid before winning a Super Bowl. So where does that leave Ryan who would like to get an extension now but also does not want to sell himself short?  He absolutely has the potential to be as good statistically, especially in that stadium, as Rodgers. But Rodgers has a ring and Ryan does not. Statistically you can not even compare Ryan and Flacco, but Flacco has great playoff success while Ryan is 1-4.  So it becomes a scenario as to how much do we value playoff success versus non-playoff success.

The top QB contracts in recent times given to non-winners were Mike Vick in 2011, Matt Schaub in 2012, and Tony Romo in 2013.  While those are the most fresh contracts in everyone’s mind I don’t think any would be valid here. All were past the age of 30 at the time of signing and had no upside remaining in their games. The best QB comparison out there is Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers. Rivers was the other big name of the 2004 draft class, the one who never won a championship.

Unlike Ryan he sat for two years, but once he finally got his chance he ran with it. Rivers first three years playing saw him surpass both Manning and Roethlisberger in a number of standard statistical categories. From 2006 thru 2008 here were the stat comparisons of the 3 star QB’s:










E. Manning










Rivers was throwing for more yards, far more touchdowns, and much fewer interceptions. In 2008, the year before his extension, Rivers actually led the entire NFL in YPA and TD’s. Over the timespan Rivers won 33 games compared to 30 for Manning and 29 for Roethlisberger. Rivers’ Chargers won their division three years in a row. But he didn’t have that Super Bowl, compiling a record of 3-3 and losing as a favorite in the playoffs.

Rivers looked like he should be the biggest star of the group and his production was far greater than Eli’s. But that SB ring means a lot. Manning ended up setting the market at $16.25 million a year while Rivers would sign soon for $15.3 million a year, about 6% less. Rivers was given a higher guarantee but had lower 3 and 4 year contractual values than both the Super Bowl winners making the meat of the contract worth less than that of his two contemporaries.

Rivers would go on to a number of exceptional seasons before the wheels seemed to come off starting in 2011, but he has yet to be able to win the big game. Manning won another Super Bowl and Roethlisberger appeared in yet another one.  The comparison of the 3 seems silly now because two are proven winners while Rivers has struggled and never got over the hump. Manning and Roethlisberger will likely both get mega contracts next season from their respective teams while there are questions as to whether or not Rivers will even remain in San Diego.

I think this brings up an interesting decision for Ryan. Manning’s and Roethlisberger’s original Super Bowl wins allowed them to become market setters at the position. Rodgers’ $22 million dollar extension he recently signed is now the top of the market and it had to be a disappointing figure for Ryan. Rodgers was so superior the last two years that he should have earned closer to $24 million a year considering Flacco’s $20.1 million dollar a year contract.  At that point I think it becomes easy. You sell Rodgers as the top line young winner and Flacco as the lower level setter and you fit in at the Rivers level, which would be around $22.4 million. Now if you put Rodgers as Eli and Ryan as Rivers the contract point becomes $20.57 million a year, assuming no concessions are made for Rodgers per game incentives which only lowers the number further. That has to be much lower than Ryan thought would happen.

Now to maximize his value I think Ryan is in a position where he has to sell Rodgers as a number to try to surpass. While many think of Rodgers as young he will be 30 at the end of the season and this will be his 9th year in the NFL. Its something of a limbo stage for comparison as he’s not really young but he’s also not early 30s like Brees, Manning, and Brady were when they jumped Eli in contract value.  But to get the number that Ryan probably felt he was going to get just a month or two ago he has to push using Rodgers as a baseline not a high point.

Of course to do that Ryan is going to have to play out the year and then try to force the Falcons hand in a negotiation. Ryan has a lot to gain by winning a Super Bowl before his extension. While I fully believe (and deeper stats do back this up) that Rodgers is a more productive QB than Ryan, it could be hard to separate the two if Ryan keeps up his current pace especially factoring in that Ryan is the younger player. Atlanta’s whole team is built around Ryan and his arm and, unlike the Lions and Matt Stafford, another player up for a deal, has been highly successful year in and out.

Playing the year out certainly brings along risks. The biggest is injury and as Jerry Maguire warned Rod Tidwell in the movies all those years ago “If you get injured you get nothing”. But at the QB position is that as much of a concern is it for a RB or a WR?  Probably not. QB’s are protected more than any other player and they are also not playing in the same manner that is as likely to lead to random injuries. And even if the injury was to occur would it damage the players earning potential?  I don’t think so. Carson Palmer blew out his knee in 2005 but the Bengals never walked away from his monster contract. Tom Brady had the knee injury in 2008 and ended up as one of the highest paid players in the game. Peyton Manning was signed to a mega deal while injured, missed the year, was cut and signed for an even bigger deal with another team. Even Rivers had a torn ACL in 2007 that he played through and he came back in 2008 to have the big deal that got him the big contract. The injuries had very little effect on the treatment of the players, outside of an injury protection for Manning that could have been avoided had he signed with the Titans. It’s a built in premium that teams are willing to pay.

The secondary risk lies in the application of the Franchise Tag. For the most part the tag never really happens as teams do want to keep the QB happy , but this still has to be a consideration. Atlanta’s cap situation in 2014 looks to be healthy with around $103 million committed to the 2014 salary cap and a whole roster that is filled other than at QB. The ballpark figure for a QB on the tag is going to be about $15 million with the exclusive tender coming in at $19.978 million and likely headed downward by the time next season is actually here.  So for one season they can tag Ryan and work within the cap without too much issue. If Ryan goes that route he is going to play this year for $10 million and next for less than $20, which is only an average of $15 million. In contrast Aaron Rodgers will earn $50.9 million over the next two years and Flacco $51 million. Even Romo’s $40 million payout will be far superior to Ryan’s. You can definitely damage your long term earnings taking this strategy as the extra million or two a year may not going to make up for lost wages over the next two.

Ryan’s cap hit this year is low so the Falcons don’t really have a need to get a deal done. This isn’t like the Ravens who basically could not afford to carry Flacco on a franchise tag type number.  That being said the Falcons are tight against the salary cap now and getting Ryan extended in 2013 probably helps their cap allocations over the next few years, but they can hold off if the two sides are far apart on compensation. So Atlanta might be willing to play it out as well.

Ryan has little to lose by playing and I think much to gain if he can get his team to the Super Bowl. I just don’t see the risks impacting his value greatly and his track record is so solid that at worst his value will remain the same.  There is also the chance that Manning or Roethlisberger can jump Rodgers next year as their teams may be forced to extend due to cap concerns, making the market even more lucrative than it is now.

At the worst he will be in the same position he is now. Even if he signed an extension now remember that his $10 million salary is going to be built into the contract (the new vs old money debate in contract valuations) so he is stuck at that salary being factored in under any scenario. Signing today doesn’t change that. I truly feel that if he wins a championship a strong case can and will be made that he deserves to be the highest paid player in the NFL. He can’t make that argument right now. All things considered I think his is a rare situation where you are better off playing out the year than accepting a deal that you may regret in another year or two.