INDIANAPOLIS -- Atlanta Falcons general manger Thomas Dimitroff said signing quarterback Matt Ryan to an extension now with two years left on his contract is not out of the question, but the primary focus is re-signing players set to become unrestricted free agents next week.
Ryan, who signed a five-year, $103.75 million extension in July of 2013 that included $59 million guaranteed, is signed through 2018 and still owed $35 million. His cap number for next season is $23,750,000 and is $21,650,000 for 2018. If the Falcons wanted to, they could give Ryan an extension this offseason and lower his cap number by giving him a larger signing bonus while reducing his base salaries.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank told ESPN.com during Super Bowl that Ryan "needs to be compensated well" following an MVP season. Blank just didn't specify when the big payday would occur.
"I'm saying that eventually, we will address Matt Ryan and his contract," Dimitroff said Wednesday. "Right now, our focus is going to be on this year's class, understanding that Matt is a very important part of our future, as every knows -- an extremely important part of our future."
The Falcons typically award extensions the year before a contract is set to expire.
"We've been very consistent with that," Dimitroff said. "We're never completely cast in stone. So, I think that leaves the opening that you never know. Sometimes things can get done. But we have been very consistent with that. And if you look at any of our signings since I've been here -- and I'm a stickler for consistency -- that sends a very good message where people can't say, 'Well, you did it with him, and you did it with him.' "
Dimitroff said he has not talked to Ryan's agent, Tom Condon, regarding an extension. Condon also represents Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is expected to land a new lucrative deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2017 season. The deals expected to be signed by both Stafford and Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr are likely to set the mark for where Ryan should be compensated. Andrew Luck of Indianapolis received $87 million guaranteed in a five-year extension signed last June.
Regarding the Falcons set to become unrestricted free agents, Dimitroff said the team is in contract negotiations to keep safety Kemal Ishmael, tight end Levine Toilolo, fullback Patrick DiMarco, and defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw. Dimitroff said he expects veteran defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, who has spent all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Falcons, to reach free agency, implying the Falcons have no intent to re-sign him. The same is expected for veteran tight end Jacob Tamme, who is coming off of shoulder surgery.
Dimitroff said the team plans to tender restricted free agents Taylor Gabriel and Ben Garland, although the level of those tenders were not yet revealed. A second-round tender could be placed on Gabriel, a speedy wide receiver who would be a coveted if given a low-level tender.
Dimitroff also said he had a couple of good conversations with Kristin Campbell, the agent for two-time Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman, after word surfaced during the Super Bowl about Campbell seeking "elite" pay for Freeman. Freeman has one year left on his contract and is due to make $1.838 million in 2017, based on an escalator in his contract.