The Falcons’ trajectory has long been tied to Matt Ryan‘s bloated contract. The organization has held off the inevitable rebuild until now after Arthur Blank clung to relevancy since tasting a Super Bowl in 2016. The former regime, led by Thomas Dimitroff, is mostly to blame, but the current regime isn’t free of it either.
Blank’s obsession with winning has come at a cost. The hiring of Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot were calculated. Blank wanted people in charge who would at least attempt to compete with Ryan as the team’s signal caller. And the team’s actions reflected Blank’s desire to try and win at all costs; now, the Falcons are right where they always were going to be.
The Falcons should’ve traded Ryan a year ago when it was clear that was the inevitable outcome. It didn’t make sense to have an aging, expensive quarterback on a talentless roster. Instead, the Falcons decided to restructure Ryan’s contract for the millionth time. It not only made moving off him more difficult this year, but Ryan’s value was higher a year ago. Now, Atlanta sits with a measly third-rounder for the greatest player in team history.
The latest restructure leaves the Falcons with $40.5 million in dead money, which adds to the $15.5 million in dead money from Julio Jones‘ contract, $4.7 million from Dante Fowler and $1.2 million from Tyeler Davison — a total of $61.9 million in dead money, nearly 30% of the team’s total salary cap in 2022.
This season should be considered a wash, but it was always going to happen. The roster is pathetic, and with Ryan’s restructured contract, everyone knew this was coming. Blank just didn’t want to admit it until the last possible moment.
“You can think of it as kind of a credit card,” Blank said. “At some point, you have to pay the bank. At some point, there is a day of reckoning. All the extensions (of Ryan’s contract) we did were a team decision. It was driven by the coach and general manager. I obviously was aware of it, (but) I don’t get involved in those levels of detail as far as restructuring.”
“It does take other players to win. It’s not like golf,” Blank said. “You have to have a team around you. You’ve got to have an offensive line to keep you standing vertical as opposed to horizontal. You got to have receivers; you got to have a running back, you got to have a defense that can stay on and compete.”
Blank essentially admitted he knew the rebuild was inevitable with Ryan’s current deal on the books. The answer was always to tear it down and start from the ground up, but obviously, the Falcons brass doesn’t possess any ability to self reflect.
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