FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – After signing a five-year contract extension that makes him one of the league's highest-paid players, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said the new deal doesn't put added pressure on him.
"The expectations we set for our football team and my personal expectations are higher than any expectation anybody's going to put on you,'' Ryan said.
And those are sky high for a franchise that came up 10 yards short of advancing to the Super Bowl last season.
"I've said many times, we're not going to really rest until we have [Super Bowl] rings,'' owner Arthur Blank said.
Ryan's deal could be worth up to $103.75 million and averages $20.75 million per year, according to ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen. Ryan will make $63 million in the first three years of the deal.
He has led the team to five straight winning seasons; the franchise never had back-to-back winning seasons before his arrival. The Falcons firmly believe Ryan, 28, can take them to even greater heights.
He is coming off the best season of his career, throwing for 4,719 yards and 32 touchdowns with only 14 interceptions, and completing 68.6 percent of his passes.
"You've got to have guys like Matt Ryan that have the drive and desire to be the best they can be,'' coach Mike Smith said.
The pay raise puts Ryan on a similar scale to Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning – quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls. The Falcons believe Ryan is comparable to any of those quarterbacks.
"In every sense of the word and every definition, Matt is a franchise quarterback,'' Blank said.