One of the bigger storylines this off-season for the Falcons will be the contract situation of Matt Ryan. You don't hear a lot about it right now but as the season nears, the Falcons will want to get Ryan under a long-term contract before he becomes a free agent in 2014. Joe Flacco recently signed a six year, $120 million contract that has set the market for Ryan and his peers.
I came across a website a few days ago called Football Perspective and it's a site that has some interesting statistical type information. This morning they had a post called "Quarterback Age Curves". They took a group of 77 quarterbacks who have entered the league since 1970 to try and determine what is the peak age of a QB and when do they start to decline and how steep is that decline.
According to the article, quarterbacks peak at age 29 with the years between 26 to 30 being the prime of their career. Matt Ryan turns 28 in May so according to this data he's still got his best two years ahead of him and is currently in the peak of his career.
As I was browsing the website, I also noticed another article that was Ryan specific and was posted back in January about the age that some of the top quarterbacks were when they got their first playoff victory. This is particularly interesting because of the media sensationalism that surrounded Ryan's 0-3 start to his playoff career.
Matt Ryan won his first playoff game at the age of 27. This is the same age as Peyton Manning, Len Dawson and Aaron Rodgers. QBs that won their first playoff game at an age older than 27 are: Steve Young (31), Fran Tarkenton (33), Dan Fouts (29), Drew Brees (28), Roger Staubach (29), Kurt Warner (28), Tony Romo (29), Warren Moon (31), Bart Starr (28) and Jim Kelly (28). So despite going 0-3 to start his career, Ryan is still in line with or out in front of a lot of elite (or in the case of Romo, decent) QBs some of which have gone on to win championships.
What does all this mean? To me it means that there is a window coming up of two to three years that will be the Falcons most likely chance to win a Super Bowl with Matt Ryan at the helm. It doesn't mean it can't happen later but it means that this is probably the most important off-season that the Falcons have had in quite sometime. From re-signing our own free agent's, to finding a pass rush, to shoring up the LB corps, to finding a tag-team partner for Jacquizz, to deciding whether to lock up Matt Ryan early…all of these decisions this off-season are extremely important to deciding whether or not the Falcons can take that final step and win that elusive Super Bowl.