When the Falcons moved money around to appease Julio Jones earlier this week, the Atlanta brass did so keeping in mind not to mess up their cap situation so they could pay younger players who are heading into contract years.
One of those young studs got paid Friday.
The team later confirmed the agreement.
Matthews was entering the fifth and final year of his rookie deal set to earn $12.496 million. Now he’ll be tied to Atlanta through the 2023 season.
The offensive tackle has stepped in immediately since being drafted No. 6 overall in 2014. Matthews has started 63 of a possible 64 career games through four seasons. Though he struggled out of the gate, the 6-foot-5 left tackle progressed into a stable force protecting Matt Ryan‘s blind side. Now the 26-year-old is getting paid like one of the top blockers in the NFL.
The Matthews news came down less than an hour after we learned the Tennessee Titans handed Taylor Lewan (drafted five spots behind Matthews) a five-year, $80 million contract. Matthews comes in a smidge below Lewan’s record-setting deal, but $15 million per season still puts the Falcons lineman among the three highest paid players at his position.
One thing’s for sure: It was a good day to be an offensive lineman. Given the scarcity of the position and rising payment figures, things will only get better for the upper-echelon blockers.