(Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has since eclipsed Ryan's contract figures.)
The effects of Ryan's big-money adjustment were felt almost immediately. Within hours, the Falcons had reportedly struck a deal with free agent offensive lineman James Carpenter.
During his initial postseason press conference back in early January, Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn acknowledged the team's preference to overhaul the offensive line – excluding left tackle Jake Matthews and center Alex Mack.
Phase one of this tiered renovation comes in the form of Carpenter, a former first-round pick from 2011 (Seattle Seahawks).
Charting Carpenter's eight NFL seasons (Seahawks, Jets), seven involved starting in every healthy game.
That's the upside to the situation.
On the down side, Carpenter's annual grade with performance-evaluation sites like Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference were substantially lower than previous seasons.
This reduction could be explained in one of three ways:
a) The 29-year-old Carpenter (6-foot-5, 320 pounds) has incurred a skills decline that's often prevalent with weathered and weary linemen approaching 30.
b) The Jets' offensive line was a work in progress all season, contributing to Carpenter's underwhelming grade.
c) Carpenter only started 10 games last year, which didn't afford him time to find a rhythm or consistency within the trenches.
With Atlanta, however, Carpenter gets a fresh start; and it's all thanks to his new quarterback (Ryan) ... who reportedly cleared $7 million of much-needed cap space.