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Matt Ryan contract sets new precedent, which will be old by Russell Wilson’s next contract

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NFL: NFC Divisional-Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons signed quarterback Matt Ryan to an obviously-record-setting contract on Thursday, agreeing to pay him $150 million over five years, making Ryan the first $30 million player. While we often talk about how APY is an “illusion” because contracts aren’t usually fully-guaranteed, but make no mistake that Ryan is a $30 million a year player now. The contract includes an NFL-record $100 million guaranteed and at Ryan’s age, there will be a lot bigger problems than APY if he doesn’t play the next six years in Atlanta.

Ryan supplants Kirk Cousins as the league’s highest-paid player on a per-year basis, a reign that lasted less than two months. It’s a fun title but it also rotates so much that I had my first kiss atop it. That’s notable for next year’s notable list of extension candidates:

Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, and Drew Brees.

The thought now turns to what Rodgers will sign for, with CBS’s Joel Corry estimating the $31.75 million a year range. That’s a significant increase from $30 million and a signal that no, quarterback contracts don’t seem to be plateauing any time soon. (Do contracts ever plateau, you ask? Yes, ask the running backs.)

This is also why “Last contract, best contract” could apply to Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Rivers, and Wilson once things start to get interesting between them and their teams in 2019. Wilson will be entering the final year of the four-year extension he signed with the Seahawks in 2015. Wilson has an average annual value of $21.9 million right now, but will be making $25.2 million in 2019 and it seems likely that his next APY will be well north of $30 million. If he waits out some of the others, including if he waits out all the way until his contract expires in 2020 and forces Seattle to consider using their franchise tag, he could be closer to $35 million than he is to $30.

The news today is the Matt Ryan is the NFL’s highest-paid player. The news tomorrow could be much the same, with a brand new name.