After 13 seasons in the NFL, Matt Ryan has been traded to the Indianapolis Colts, ending his tenure with the Atlanta Falcons. What is the situation with Ryan’s contract following the trade and its impact on both the Falcons’ and Colts’ salary cap in 2022?
Matt Ryan’s contract details and bonuses
Ryan’s contract is one of the most convoluted in the NFL due to multiple restructures. He originally signed a five-year extension in May 2018. That extension had a total value of $150 million, $94.5 million of which was fully guaranteed at signing.
Those guarantees covered his $46.5 million signing bonus, as well as his salaries in 2018, 2019, and 2020. His $10 million option bonus was also fully guaranteed when the contract was signed. Another $5.5 million in salary in 2021 became guaranteed on March 15, 2019. His $46.5 million signing bonus prorated across five years at $9.3 million per year. The $10 million option bonus prorated across the contract at $2 million per year.
Ryan’s latest contract has been restructured multiple times
Ryan’s deal has been restructured so often it now resembles one of the most complicated structures in the league. There was a restructure prior to 2019 that converted $8.75 million to a signing bonus. At the end of that season, another $12 million was moved out of his 2020 base salary and paid as a signing bonus.
Then later in the offseason, the Falcons restructured the deal further to take Ryan’s salary down to the veteran minimum. The outcome of that restructure was another $4.9 million in prorated salary cap charged across the final four seasons of the deal. Entering the 2020 NFL season, the Falcons had $9.3 million per year in prorated signing bonus, $2 million per year in prorated option bonus, and $6.6 million per year in prorated restructure payments for Ryan.
All told, Ryan had a cap number of $18.96 million in 2020. With a base salary of just $1.05 million, the remaining $17.91 million was in prorated bonus from the signing bonus and restructures.
Ryan’s contract was restructured again ahead of the 2021 season
Leading into the 2021 NFL offseason, the Falcons restructured Ryan’s contract for a fourth time in three years. This time, they converted $21 million in base salary to a signing bonus.
Due to that fourth restructuring of Ryan’s contract, each of the remaining three years of his contract carried an additional $7 million in prorated bonus. That is a total of $13.6 million in prorated restructure payments, plus the $11.3 million in prorated signing bonus and option bonus. Overall, the Falcons carry $24.9 million in prorated money on the 2021 and 2022 salary caps with Ryan’s contract. That drops to $15.61 million in 2023.
When Ryan signed his extension ahead of the 2018 season, he had one more year remaining on his previous deal. Therefore, Ryan’s current contract keeps him with the team through the end of the 2023 season. That leaves two more full NFL seasons after this one remaining on Ryan’s contract heading into the second half of the 2021 season.
How does Ryan’s contract affect the Falcons’ and Colts’ salary cap?
All of the information above makes for complicated reading. With the Falcons trading Ryan ahead of his roster bonus becoming guaranteed, they will take on a $40.5 million dead money charge.
Meanwhile, the Colts are taking on $16.25 million in salary and a $7.5 million roster bonus. Therefore, they get Ryan for just a $23.75 million cap number this season. That grows to $28 million next year. However, two years of a former MVP for just over $50 million in total is a good deal for the Colts. They will also be able to move on from Ryan for nothing next offseason — assuming they do not restructure the deal in 2022.