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Falcons Playing For Big Contracts

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Falcons QB Matt Ryan has taken Atlanta to the next level since he first burst on the scene and will look to be appropriately compensated during or after the 2013 season. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan has taken Atlanta to the next level since he first burst on the scene and will look to be appropriately compensated during or after the 2013 season. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

Pressure does funny things to people. Some people excel when the pressure is on while others falter. In the NFL, the “contract year” is a player’s opportunity to acquire wealth that should last a lifetime. However, there is a reason why pressure busts pipes. Some players are unable to capitalize on the situation. For the average Joe, imagine an interview for your dream job. You can impress, but on the other hand, you can also bomb it.      

The Atlanta Falcons have a handful of starters who enter 2013 in the infamous contract year. Some are no-brainers to receive new deals while others have to perform well in 2013 to get a quality contract from the Falcons or another NFL team. For players in the final year of their deals, performance means millions. Here are the Falcons entering this critical year:  

Matt Ryan – The contract that everyone in Atlanta is watching right now. Ryan enters the final year of his deal and is expected to land a 100 million dollar deal. The question is whether Ryan gets paid franchise quarterback money or Super Bowl winning franchise quarterback money. There is a difference. The Falcons are expected to get this deal done, but the possibility remains that Ryan plays this season without a new contract.  

Jonathan Babineaux – A versatile defensive tackle, Babineaux recorded 3.5 sacks in 2012 and has proven that he can play both inside and out in Mike Nolan’s defense. Babineaux will turn 32 in October and will look to land a new deal that will keep him near his 2013 salary of $4.7 million.   

Tony Gonzalez – While Gonzalez signed a two-year deal this offseason to return to the Falcons, the 2014 season is voided. If the Falcons were to win the Super Bowl, Gonzalez would likely retire. But another productive season in 2013 and a season in contention may bring him back. His status is entirely up to him.  

Corey Peters – The defensive tackle started in just eight games in 2012 after starting in 30 from 2010 to 2011. If he can perform at his 2011 level, Peters will be in line for a quality deal as he is just 25 years old.   

Peria Jerry – The former 2009 1st round pick is now in the final year of his deal and has been a disappointment to this point in his career with the Falcons. A major knee injury in 2009 is certainly a reason why the defensive tackle has yet to reach his full potential. Jerry will have to be a bigger force inside in order to keep from becoming a journeyman after the 2013 season.   

Mike Johnson – Currently listed as the starting right tackle with the release of Tyson Clabo, the former 3rd round pick in 2010 has started just one game thus far in his NFL career. Johnson will compete with 2012 3rd round pick Lamar Holmes for the starting job. If Johnson wins the job and plays well, he will put himself in position to land a contract worth $3-4 million per season.