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Matt Ryan finally gets his contract extension from the Falcons to become the NFL’s first $30 million per year player

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Ryan’s career year in 2016 eventually led to a massive new paycheck.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have locked in quarterback Matt Ryan with a new contract, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

The deal is reportedly for five years and averages $30 million per year with $100 million guaranteed. Both are NFL records.

The extension isn’t a surprising one. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jeff Schultz reported on Mar. 16 it was on the horizon, and it has arrived.

Ryan’s deal comes after Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins got monster deals this offseason. We knew this was on its way all along, especially after Ryan’s 2016 MVP season, and Derek Carr’s mega-deal he received in the offseason afterward.

Ryan came along at the perfect time for the Falcons

Ryan made his name as a star college QB at Boston College, getting selected No. 3 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. He couldn’t have come at a better time for the Falcons, who were still reeling from the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal. Ryan became an immediate starter and stabilized Atlanta’s QB position for the next decade.

For most of his career Ryan was regarded as a solidly above-average starter, if not an elite signal-caller. The Falcons went to the playoffs four times in his first five years, but only got as far as the NFC Championship in the 2012 season, falling to the San Francisco 49ers. Fair or not, after a certain point a reputation set in, and Ryan was seen as someone who couldn’t get the job done under the biggest spotlights. Ryan continued to fill the stat sheet, but it seemed like he’d never truly get over the top.

Ryan truly put it all together in 2016

Under the guidance of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Ryan had a magnum opus season, setting career highs in completion percentage (69.9), passing yards (4,944), yards per attempt (9.3), and touchdowns (38), while throwing just seven interceptions. Leading the most explosive offense in football, Ryan’s Falcons stormed through the playoffs and got to the Super Bowl for just the second time in franchise history. Ryan’s efforts won him both the MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors.

The Falcons’ Super Bowl dream turned into a nightmare, as the team blew a 28-3 lead and lost to the New England Patriots in a stunning meltdown. Ryan mostly performed well in the game, completing 17 of 23 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns. However, he took some questionable sacks late in the game and lost a fumble on a strip-sack, which ultimately swung the game in New England’s favor. There are many reasons why the Falcons threw away this game, but it’d be hard to put Ryan high on the list even with his fourth-quarter struggles.

Despite that crushing loss, the rest of Ryan’s 2016 season was nearly flawless, and he re-established himself as one of the league’s best QBs.

His 2017 wasn’t as prolific, but he’s still worth it

Ryan — and the Falcons as a whole — took a step back in 2017. There was a clear learning curve they had to deal with after losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and it showed on the field.

Ryan completed just under 65 percent of his passes to go along with 4,000 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. The Falcons offense would show flashes during the season, but it never quite came together for them.

Although they weren’t as good, they still finished the regular season at 10-6, and nearly beat the Eagles in the NFC Divisional Round. The Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl.

Keeping Ryan around extends the Falcons’ window

Despite a shaky 2017 season, the Falcons still seem to be set offensively. Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman will all still be at Ryan’s disposal.

It’s possible that his 2016 MVP campaign was an outlier, but at 32 years old, Ryan still has a few more years left in his prime. If he continues playing like a franchise quarterback, the Falcons should stay in playoff contention for the foreseeable future.