Originally written February 26, 2013 on Fox Sports South:
New-orleans-saints-atlanta
ATLANTA As the debate rages as to whether Tom Brady is selfless for signing a new contract for less than market value or whether Brady managed to enrich himself in the process, one thing seems certain: The deal did create cap room for the New England Patriots. As reported by Sports Illustrated's Peter King, the deal will save the Patriots 15 million in cap relief over the next two seasons. When a three-time Super Bowl winner like Brady signs a new deal, his actions are bound to have repercussions throughout the league. Take the Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan, for example: In some ways, the Falcons and Patriots are in similar situations. Both teams lost in their respective conference championship games. Both clubs were in desperate need of cap relief. Both franchises are trying to maintain as Super Bowl contenders for years to come, while being buffeted by the constraints of the cap. Just last Friday, it was reported the Falcons plan to cut running back Michael Turner, a move that will put the club between 8 and 9 million under the salary cap. Even at that, Atlanta might not have enough room to sign its players with expiring contracts, notably left tackle Sam Baker, safety William Moore (coming off a Pro Bowl season) and cornerback Brent Grimes. Significantly, the Falcons' cap situation also could impede their ability to make a big move in free agency. Running backs Reggie Bush and Steven Jackson are two players of potential interest, and that does not even include a much-needed upgrade to the pass rush. Plus, if tight end Tony Gonzalez decides to return (holding off retirement), he will not come cheaply. All of it means that more painful moves likely lie ahead. But as Brady did his restructured deal might enable the Patriots to re-sign wide receiver Wes Welker the Falcons could pull off a similar deal with Matt Ryan (4,719 yards passing, 32 TDs last year). In 2013, Ryan will be in the final year of a six-year deal worth between 66 and 72 million, and the Falcons are expected to pursue extension talks soon. Because Ryan was drafted in the same year as Baltimore's Joe Flacco, the newly crowned Super Bowl champion, the Falcons and Ryan might wait until Flacco's deal gets completed and sets the bar for Atlantas negotiations. Restructuring contracts and making them fit into a cap-friendly puzzle, in order to maintain a perennial winner, is no short-term endeavor. In Ryans five seasons, he has led the Falcons to the playoffs four times. Nonetheless, playoff victories have been rare and the biggest prize has remained elusive. Since his arrival in Atlanta, Ryan has carefully cultivated the image as a consummate team player. Ask him a question about himself and hell answer it by saying "we." He constantly deflects credit to his offensive line or to skill position players. All of which puts him in an awkward position when it comes to a contract negotiation that has the potential to become contentious. If he chooses to take a more cap-friendly deal, it would continue to show that Ryan, like Brady, puts winning and his team ahead of other considerations. Every year, the NFL's cap brings new challenges. It's possible the cap could grow in coming years and alleviate some of the Falcons' issues. However, unforeseen issues always arise. Roddy White held out to start the 2009 season. Could fellow wide receiver Julio Jones (79 catches, 1,198 yards, 10 TDs last year) do the same if he produces another big season in 2013? Jones caught three more touchdown passes than White last season. The average salary of White's deal pays him roughly double of Jones' first contract. The Falcons also have a decision to make about 14-year veteran center Todd McClure, a key player who makes the calls that ensure Ryan is protected. Ryan was sacked only 28 times in 2012, less than twice a game. When Ryan was at Boston College, Brady was not far away, quarterbacking the Patriots to championships. Ryan studied his elder. In the 2010 offseason, Brady also was among the quarterbacks whose game films Ryan studied to improve his game. If Ryan wants to help keep all of these skilled players around him plus more in the future with the goal of ensuring future winning seasons, he might consider continuing to follow Brady's example.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Royals beat A's in extras, win first playoff game since '85

Mark Davis: Raiders head coaching job will be 'enticing'

Fan on Craigslist offers Nats playoff tickets for threesome

Brady snubs rookie Garoppolo after touchdown pass

Cung Le suspended for failed HGH test

FCC Chairman: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brain study finds 76 of 79 deceased NFL players had CTE

Tony Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

Eli on Geno Smith: If fans yell at you, you probably deserve it

49ers players come out in support of Jim Harbaugh

Raiders reportedly expected to make a run at Jon Gruden

FCC unanimously ends sports blackout rule

MLB.com posts wrong story saying A's won game

WATCH: Brett Favre in new nose hair trimmer commercial

WATCH: Michigan students protest, call for AD to be fired

Marlins president: We're not trading Giancarlo Stanton

Heckling Knicks fan suing team over ejection

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe: Iggy Azalea has had better career than Swaggy P

College football's post-Week 5 playoff projection

Oregon to don pink-themed unis for breast cancer awareness

Is DeMarco Murray the best RB in the NFL?

WATCH: TBS sends up 'Boom Goes the Dynamite' with promo

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

WATCH: Brett Favre in new commercial

Brady snubs rookie after TD pass

FCC: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

Could Jon Gruden return to Oakland?

Marlins: We're not trading Stanton

Study: 76 of 79 deceased NFL players had CTE

Heckling fan sues Knicks over ejection

Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe chooses Iggy over Swaggy P

Is DeMarco Murray the NFL's best RB?

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.