The Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan agreed to a new deal Thursday just as training camp begins.
ATLANTA --- Matt Ryan didn’t just join the NFL’s $100 million club Thursday, agreeing to a five-year contract extension worth $103.75 million.
He became one of the highest-paid players in NFL history.
“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 told ESPN.com, which first reported the deal Thursday.
The new deal, tacked onto the final year of his rookie deal in 2013, keeps him under contract through the 2018 season. Ryan is scheduled to earn $10 million this season, the final year of his six-year, $72 million deal signed as the third overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Ryan, whose reported $59 million in guaranteed money he received is $4 million more in guaranteed money than Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, is the latest franchise quarterback to clear the $100 million mark.
Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers and Romo all signed deals that can be worth well north of $110 million, following the market set in 2012 by Drew Brees. Brees’ contract contained guarantees of $60.5 million. Peyton Manning’s five-year, $97.5 million contract with the Denver Broncos signed in 2012 included $58 million guaranteed. Brees, Manning and Ryan are represented by agent Tom Condon.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank said the decision whether to reward Ryan and sign him long-term was simple: He can get us a title.
“I’ve said many times, we’re not going to really rest until we have (Super Bowl) rings,’’ Blank told the website. “In every sense of the word and every definition, Matt is a franchise quarterback.”
Ryan, 28, has started 77 games in his first five seasons with 18,957 yards, 127 touchdowns and 60 interceptions. He led the NFL with a 68.6 completion percentage in 2012, leading the Falcons to a 13-3 record with the sixth-ranked passing offense and No. 7 scoring offense in the NFL. Ryan set franchise records for attempts, completions, completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns last season.
The way the Falcons looked at it, Ryan — already very good — is just entering his prime.
His best season was this past season, throwing for 4,719 yards, 32 touchdowns and 14 interceptions
“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 told ESPN.
His new annual average salary of $20.5 million puts Ryan second in the NFL behind only Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Rodgers, who averages $22 million per season.
Smith told the AJC on Thursday he thinks Ryan can be better than all of those guys in the elite QB club he joined.
“I think the arrow is still going up,” Smith told the newspaper. “I continue to see Matt being a better football player than he was last year. I don’t even think we’ve seen nearly what he’s capable of doing.”