Samuel: Ryan on par with Brady, Rodgers

Whenever negotiations for a contract extension turn serious, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and his agent might want to send a thank-you note to cornerback Asante Samuel.

Appearing on “First Take’’ on Thursday, Samuel, who won two Super Bowl championships with Tom Brady in New England, said Ryan compares favorably to Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

“I think he’s on that level already,’’ Samuel said. “Most definitely. He’s been a productive quarterback since he’s been in the league. He’s led his team to the playoffs (four times). This was the first year we got over the hump and got one playoff victory. Four minutes away from the Super Bowl, so I think he’s right up there. He’s just got to get more experience and more time in and you’ll see more championships.’’

Actually, the Falcons haven’t won any championships (other than NFC South crowns) with Ryan. But I get Samuel’s point that championships will come in time. The Falcons obviously were on the cusp of last season’s Super Bowl and I think their offseason moves have been solid.

So what’s it going to take for the Falcons to take the next step?

“I think it’s just leadership,’’ Saumel said. “We’re more of a young team. More people have to learn how to win and what it takes to win. That’s where the leadership comes [in]. More leaders. It’s never enough.’’