The Atlanta Falcons reached the Super Bowl last year on the heels of a fantastic season by Matt Ryan, and the team understands that signing their franchise quarterback to a long-term contract will be critical to the franchise's success in the years ahead.
"I think what's most exciting for me, personally, is that Matt has indicated a number of times that he wants to play another five-to-seven years," Blank said Friday. "And I think he thinks he's Tom Brady -- play to maybe 42, I'm not sure. That would be great, too. But Matt's been a great player for us for 10 years -- both on the field and off the field. So, I'm looking forward to having him extend his contract."
Ryan certainly seems capable of staying among the NFL's elite passers for the next five years. Although his numbers slid off slightly from his amazing 2016 output, he's still playing at a level higher than likely free-agent-to-be Kirk Cousins, who's poised for a grandiose payday from one of several drooling NFL general managers.
Blank clearly understands this, but he also wants to make sure the Falcons remain in contention for playing a Super Bowl in front of the home crowd next February -- and for years to come. To do this, he wants the Falcons to be careful in how they approach Ryan's new contract and how it'll affect the rest of the 53-man roster.
"I'm not saying the money is not significant, it is significant," Blank said. "But I think he wants to win championships, he wants to win the Super Bowl. So part of what we have to keep in balance -- and Matt has to help us do that -- is that we want to sign a contract with Matt that is respectful and competitive with him, but one that positions the team to keep talent around him. ... I don't care who the player is, you can't win with one player."
These are concerns general manager Thomas Dimitroff and the rest of the Falcons' braintrust know all too well heading into the final year of Ryan's current deal. Getting a long-term deal done this offseason would mitigate the constant storylines of whether the Falcons truly believe in Ryan's capabilities to lead them to a Super Bowl title.
Based on Blank's comments, Atlanta doesn't need 2016 MVP to embark on a "prove it" year after he was 18 minutes away from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Still, it'll be interesting to see how contract talks develop in the weeks and months ahead.