The common misconception is that every contract around the NFL works in isolation. The truth is that when a player signs a landmark contract the rest of the league takes notice, and agents immediately start looking ahead to work out where their clients fit in. Had Larry Fitzgerald never inked a contract set to pay him $16 million per year, then Vincent Jackson never would have gotten $11 million per from the Buccaneers. Nobody is saying Jackson is as good as Fitz, but it shows that even lesser players benefit from those above them getting mammoth deals.
When the New Orleans Saints signed Drew Brees to a record 5 year, $100 million contract it set a new standard for NFL players, and D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC took his own look at what this deal could mean for the Falcons' Matt Ryan. We're still two years away from Ryan's deal being up, but as Ledbetter says the Falcons have made a habit lately of getting deals done a year away from completion, meaning that next summer should be the time to re-up Matt Ryan.
Coming off a 6 year, $72 million deal he signed as a rookie there's no way $12 million per season will be enough to get a second contract done. Based on what Brees received, and Aaron Rodgers is going to get, it's likely Ryan will command something in the $14-15 million range, at least. It's hard to really nail down what will happen to the QB market. Yes, Brees got a huge payday-- but he's also an aging QB. The $20 million per mark will easily be eclipsed by Aaron Rodgers, and next year Ryan will still only be 28 years old. Putting him easily in a position where he could see another two contracts if he remains injury free.
At this point $14-15 million may be too conservative for a QB who has led he team to a 43-19 record since entering the NFL. It will be fascinating to see how teams reconcile the rising prices of their quarterbacks, with an expanding salary cap due to new TV deals. Players like Ryan and Rodgers will be the beneficiaries, but time will tell who the first team will be who turns down a franchise player because the cost is getting prohibitive. If inflation continues we're not far off from $25 and $30 million deals in the near future.