The Falcons are at a crossroads, and this isn’t a strong draft class for quarterbacks. I don’t want to see Matt Ryan leave, but I think he deserves a chance to compete somewhere as his career winds down. Recently, it’s been reported by Chris Mortenson that Matt Ryan will be the Falcons quarterback for at least one more season. However, Arthur Smith also came out and said that the Falcons don’t want to back themselves in a corner. It does seem likely that Ryan is under center for the birds in 2022, but things could change if the right deal comes along.
I’m going to do my best to strike a balance between what’s best for Ryan, the fit with the team he would go to, and what the Falcons could get in return in these rankings. Atlanta would be eating a record setting $40.5 million in 2022, and Ryan’s new team would receive a quality starting quarterback for cheap. Keep in mind, while this may seem like a steep price for Ryan, there aren’t many quality options available and the Falcons are paying most of his salary. That will be appealing to other teams.
5. Washington Football Team
Washington has solid defensive pieces and weapons, and a good coach in Ron Rivera. Bringing back Brandon Scherff will be a top priority for them, so getting Ryan on a cheaper deal while also protecting him could be huge for them. With a new team name coming in February, maybe Washington pushes their chips in to get to the playoffs after falling just short in 2021.
Return: QB Taylor Heinicke, 2023 2nd Round Pick, & 2023 Conditional 3rd Round Pick
4. Philadelphia Eagles
I don’t really think the Eagles need to move on from Jalen Hurts, which is why I have them so low, but I’m not in their front office. They have a good offensive line and a defense with playmakers; they just need to add a few more weapons. The Eagles run the ball effectively and could pull off an upset in a playoff game this year. However, if the team decides to go all in, they make sense as trade partners with the two extra first round picks they have. Throw in the fact that you get a bridge quarterback in return and this should be an easy sell for the Falcons. I just don’t think the Eagles are going to be in the market for a quarterback.
Return: QB Jalen Hurts, 2023 2nd Round Pick, & 2023 Conditional 3rd Round Pick
QB Gardner Minshew II & 2022 1st Round Pick (From Indianapolis)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are an interesting trade partner. There’s no doubt that they have the chops to compete with their defense, but their offensive line needs a lot of work. By adding Ryan, they would still have the money to address their other needs. But while they make sense, they don’t have a bridge quarterback to offer the Falcons. It would still be tough to turn down a straight up swap for a first-round pick.
Return: 2022 1st Round Pick
2. Denver Broncos
Bill Barnwell of ESPN proposed this trade, and I have to agree that the two teams make sense as trade partners. The Broncos feel like they have the defense to compete for a Super Bowl, and they have a lot of good young running backs and receivers. They also have the line needed to protect Matt Ryan. With their luck drafting quarterbacks, this may be the best route. Throw in Drew Lock, and I think this is a deal that makes a lot of sense for both sides.
Return: QB Drew Lock, 2022 1st Round Pick
1. Cleveland Browns
While the return may not be the best on this list, this is the move that absolutely makes the most sense. Baker Mayfield had a horrid end to the 2021 season, and the Browns have just about everything in place besides a quarterback. If you can add a quarterback with playoff success on an affordable deal, maybe the chips get pushed in and the Browns make a big splash. They don’t have time to develop another quarterback. The Falcons can experiment with Mayfield for a season, who should be a decent scheme fit for what Arthur Smith wants to do. If it fails, they’ll have picks to fall back on and can select their quarterback of the future.
Return: QB Baker Mayfield, 2022 Second Round Pick, 2023 First1 Round Pick