FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan became the NFL's first player to agree to a contract worth $30 million annually on Thursday, a significant milestone for players and one that highlights how the New England Patriots have one of the most team-friendly financial situations with their quarterback, Tom Brady.
Using Ryan's deal as a springboard, it's timely to revisit where Brady ranks financially among NFL quarterbacks, while also analyzing what would be a realistic deal for Brady if the sides were to return to the negotiating table.
Brady's ranking: There are different ways to measure the value of a contract, but from the standard of average-per-year, Brady's most recent extension from March of 2016 gave him an average of $20.5 million per season in "new money." Just more than two years later, that total ranks him 16th among NFL quarterbacks (per OverTheCap.com), well behind the top five of Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr. In signing that deal, Brady placed a higher value on guaranteed money (68.3 percent of the deal was guaranteed) than the average salary per season, but he could have easily commanded more from an average-per-season standpoint.
What could be a fair deal: In the past, this has been the time when the Patriots and Brady have traditionally extended his contract, with two years remaining. If that were to happen this year, Drew Brees' deal with the Saints (two years, $50 million) is one example of a recent contract that has some linkage to Brady's situation as both players are at similar points in their careers. Furthermore, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers are in discussions on a new deal, and Rodgers could top Ryan's pact in the $30 million-per-season category. And finally, Cousins' three-year, $84 million deal in Minnesota was groundbreaking because it is fully guaranteed. As Brady assesses the current landscape and considers what Falcons owner Arthur Blank said about Ryan's deal -- "league revenues are up, club revenues, new stadiums and the players are the heart of the game; they're the ones on the field and they certainly deserve their fair share" -- he could make a case to be aligned with any of those players.
Again, that's never been his mindset at the negotiating table, but Ryan's deal -- coupled with a quarterback market that continues to grow -- makes it timely to revisit just how good the Patriots have it financially with Brady's current deal.