Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons will open their 2013-14 season against rival New Orleans.
FLOWERY BRANCH — With quarterback Aaron Rodgers agreeing to a new five-year, $110 million contract with the Green Bay Packers on Friday, the market is set for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Rodgers’ deal has $40 million guaranteed, with $62 million to be paid over the first three years of the deal. Rodgers’ average of $22 million per year tops the $20.1 million per year average of Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco’s deal (six years, $120.6 million).
So if the Falcons want to top Flacco, but not Rodgers, Ryan’s deal could end up being a six-year deal, for $126 million for an average of $21 million per year.
Joel Corry, a former agent, who covers sports business for nationalfootballpost.com, projected that a five-year extension averaging between $20.2 million and $21 million per year for Ryan would make for a six-year total that could land in the range of $111 million to $115 million.
Ryan is set to enter the last year of his original six-year, $66 million contract.
Talks have been amicable, and the Falcons said before the draft they would return to the negotiating table after the draft.
Desmond Trufant, the Falcons’ first-round draft pick, took some time to reflect on his jersey-number selection.
The Tacoma, Wash., native has two brothers in the NFL and knew the significance of taking jersey No. 21 in Atlanta.
It was available because Christopher Owens left to sign with Cleveland in free agency, but the number is most closely associated with Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who was enshrined in the team’s Ring of Honor in 2010.
“I thought about it,” Trufant said. “That was Deion Sanders’ number when he was here.’’
He was a great player. I would just love to follow in a guy’s footsteps like that. It’s an honor to wear that number and to be here as well.”
The Falcons have special plans for Trufant.
With the release of Dunta Robinson and with Brent Grimes leaving to sign with Miami during free agency, the right cornerback position is open.
“We expect that he’ll come in here and compete and win that position,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.
Trufant was asked which NFL players he tries to emulate.
“I try to be like two corners, honestly,” Trufant said. “One is Darrelle Revis. I like what he does with his technique, patience, strength and confidence. Then there is Charles Woodson because he can go in the slot. He’s versatile. I try to model my game after those two players.”
Here’s a closer look at the Falcons’ picks:
Round 1/Pick 22 — Desmond Trufant, CB, 6-0, 190, Washington
He will become the third Trufant to make it to the NFL. His brothers, Marcus (Seattle) and Isaiah (Jets), already are in the league. The youngest Trufant is a big corner and is plenty fast. He ran the 40 in 4.38 seconds at the combine. He was a captain for the Huskies. He played in 12 games as a freshman in 2009, starting the last nine at cornerback. He started all 13 games as a sophomore and junior. Last season, he had a string of 45 consecutive starts snapped when he missed the Colorado game with a hamstring injury in November. “It’s a perfect place for me,” Trufant said. “I want to make an impact in the league from Day 1.”
2/60 — Robert Alford, CB, 5-9, 188, Southeastern Louisiana
Alford was the first player from an FCS school selected in this draft. After last season the College Sports Journal named him the FCS national defensive player of the year, and The NFL Draft Report and Sports Network selected him to their All-American teams. Alford signed to play wide receiver, but he switched to cornerback after sitting out 2008 because of eligibility issues. Alford started 31 of 32 games at cornerback and recorded 137 tackles, 20 passes defended and 10 interceptions.
4/127 — Malliciah Goodman, DE, 6-3, 276, Clemson
Goodman, a defensive end, was a Parade All-America selection and played in the U.S. Army All-American game. He was described as having “violent hands” in his NFL.com bio. He started two of 27 games over his first two seasons and had three sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss as he backed up Da’Quan Bowers. Over his final two seasons, he increased his effort level and started his final 27 games for the Tigers. As a junior, he set a new school-record for defensive linemen by playing 767 snaps. He finished with nine sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, 11 pressures and five forced fumbles as a senior.
4/133 — Levine Toilolo, TE, 6-8, 265, Stanford
Toilolo was used mainly as a blocker. He also caught 24 passes for 393 yards last season. He also has three uncles -- Dan Saleaumua, Edwin Mulitalo and Joe Salave’a -- who played in the NFL. “At Stanford we ran a pretty pro-style, West Coast offense,” Toilolo said. “So we utilized a lot of tight ends which was big coming out of high school for me. This year we ran a lot of two tight-end sets for me and Zach (Ertz). For me, I was more of an inline tight end with my hand down the majority of the time.”
5/153 — Stansly Maponga, DE, 6-2, 265, Texas Christian
The speed rusher is recovering from March foot surgery. He broke a metatarsal bone in his left foot in a game against Baylor. Maponga played in 11 games and made nine starts last season. He was selected to the All-Big 12 first-team and the Associated Press All-Big 12 second-team.
7/243— Kemal Ishmael, S, 5-11, 206, Central Florida
The safety is from the same school that produced Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel. He was voted defensive player of the year in 2012 by Conference USA coaches. Ishmael also was named to the Jim Thorpe award watch list. Ishmael, a Miami native, finished his career as UCF’s all-time top tackler among defensive backs and ranked third overall with 368 tackles. He played in 53 games for the Black Knights.
7/244 — Zeke Motta, 6-2, 213, Notre Dame
Recruited as a linebacker out of Vero Beach, Fla., Motta became a full-time safety for his sophomore season at Notre Dame. He played in all 51 games with 29 starts and recorded 179 tackles and two interceptions. Motta was a team captain during his senior season at Notre Dame. His time of 4.83 seconds for 40 yards was the slowest among safeties at the NFL scouting combine.
7/249 — Sean Renfree, 6-3, 219, Duke
Renfree was a three-year starter for the Blue Devils and last season led them to their first bowl game appearance since 1994. Renfree set a school record with a 65.4 career completion percentage while passing for 9,465 yards, 50 touchdowns and 40 interceptions. Renfree suffered a torn right pectoral muscle on the final play of the Belk Bowl. He had surgery to repair the injury and wasn’t able to participate in Duke’s pro day.