Matt Ryan signed a $72 million, six-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons yesterday, ending concerns that prolonged negotiations could threaten his chance to become the team's starting quarterback as a rookie.
Ryan, the No. 3 overall pick in last month's draft out of Boston College, is guaranteed $34.75 million. His guaranteed money is $4.75 million more than that given to Jake Long, the No. 1 overall choice who also is represented by agent Tom Condon.
Ryan worked behind Chris Redman and Joey Harrington at his first minicamp with the team this month.
The 6-foot-5-inch Ryan ranked third in the nation with his school-record 4,507 yards passing in 2007 and was the first QB taken in the draft. He and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff had promised to avoid extended talks that could threaten Ryan's status for camp.
Redman, Harrington, and Byron Leftwich shared the starting job last season as Michael Vick began serving a 23-month prison sentence after he confessed to bankrolling a dogfighting ring. Vick has been suspended indefinitely by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Leftwich was released after the season. Ryan will join Harrington, Redman, and D.J. Shockley in the competition in training camp.
"I think that's certainly the goal, to prepare to play, to do everything you can to be on the field and play," Ryan said. "That's what I'm going to do. I think I've done pretty well so far."
Yesterday at the NFL meetings in Atlanta, Goodell said he has no plans for an independent investigation of the Patriots' videotaping procedures, which Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has called for.
Goodell, who reiterated that he felt the league's investigation was thorough, indicated he has not spoken with Specter since the senator called for the investigation and has no plans to.
The Patriots' videotaping issue and the public firestorm that ensued was a catalyst for Goodell and NFL owners to adopt an integrity-of-the-game policy in March. As part of the policy, owners now will certify that they are in compliance with all rules, and the NFL will conduct random checks on every team.
"We went through some of the details of how that will work, specifically the certification, the duty to report [violations], the spot checks, and some of the technology we'll be using," Goodell relayed.
As for two new issues that former Patriots employee Matt Walsh brought up in his meeting with Goodell last Tuesday - a New England player on injured reserve alleged to be illegally practicing, and the alleged scalping of 8-12 Super Bowl tickets by players over a two-year span - Goodell said there were no new developments on the league's follow-up.
Not too surprising
When owners struck a last-minute deal to extend the collective bargaining agreement in 2006, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft was praised as an instrumental part of the process. Yesterday, the owners unanimously opted out of the final two years of the CBA, but Kraft said he wasn't surprised. The decision, he said, reinforced his initial thoughts - that the deal with players to share about 60 percent of revenue was too rich to begin with. Yet Kraft said to New England fans that "there are three more years of football before anyone needs to start worrying about this." . . . The Kansas City Chiefs' rule proposal that would restrict players' hair from covering the name on their jersey, or the numerals, was tabled for a second time. "It was my view that there needs to be further work done," said Goodell . . . Owners spent time discussing ways to improve the preseason, although no decisions were finalized. "We're not satisfied with the quality of the preseason right now," Goodell said. He raised the possibility that the preseason could be shortened from four games to three, while adding a 17th regular-season game. That also could help create more revenue to possibly aid in the looming labor battle, but Broncos owner Pat Bowlen indicated that was unlikely.
Team will pay, too
The league is adding a new wrinkle to its personal conduct policy. Teams now will be fined when a player on the club is disciplined at a certain level. The amount of fines will escalate based on the number of incidents . . . As expected, Indianapolis was awarded the 2012 Super Bowl, edging Arizona and Houston. In a New England twist, part of Arizona's presentation to owners included a clip from Patriots coach Bill Belichick from Super Bowl XLII Media Day, in which he said Arizona was a great host . . . The NFL is implementing a fan conduct policy, which Goodell said will be out before the 2008 season. "It was generally agreed, with all the clubs, that we can do better here and make sure all our fans can come and enjoy the [in-stadium] experience," said Goodell, who did not address how such a policy could be implemented . . . Goodell said he plans to meet with suspended Cowboys cornerback Pacman Jones about the possibility that Jones can work out at Dallas's facility.
Saints' Grant indicted
New Orleans Saints defensive end Charles Grant has been indicted on a charge of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a February altercation at a Blakely, Ga., nightclub. Grant, who was stabbed in the neck during the fracas, was charged by an Early County grand jury that also charged Laquient Macklin with felony murder and killing of a fetus in the shooting death of Korynda Reed, 23. Reed died after being taken to the Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan after the fight early Feb. 3. Grant is a former University of Georgia star from nearby Colquitt . . . The Cowboys signed running back Marion Barber and cornerback Terence Newman to long-term extensions, just beating a deadline that would've changed how the money is spread over the salary cap. Barber received a $45 million, seven-year contract with $16 million in guaranteed bonuses. It's worth $21 million over the first three years. Newman's deal is a six-year extension, locking him up through 2014. His contract is worth more than $50 million.
The Oakland Raiders released safety Stuart Schweigert, cutting ties with a former starter who lost his job late last season . . . One of the new owners of the Rams says he has been approached by "several people" about selling, but there is every intention of keeping the NFL team in St. Louis. Chip Rosenbloom issued a statement denying a report by Yahoo Sports that the team was on the market and being shopped for up to $900 million, with a sale raising the possibility of a return to Los Angeles. Mike Reiss of the Globe staff contributed to this report from Atlanta.
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