Falcons traded Julio Jones at the perfect time, could the same be said for Matt Ryan?

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Many believed the Titans had won the trade when Terry Fontenot moved Julio Jones for a couple of draft picks last offseason. However, in hindsight, we know Atlanta came out on top. After the superstar receiver forced his way out last spring, the Falcons were left holding their pockets and could only net a second and fourth-round pick.

Tennessee seemingly got their star receiver to pair with AJ Brown, which would finally push them over the top, but that never came to fruition. The Titans could not advance in the playoffs this year — similarly to the last — losing at home after their first-round bye, even if Jones finished with six catches and 62 yards in the AFC Divisional round loss to the Bengals.

Jones has dealt with nagging injuries the past couple of seasons, and his first season after departing Atlanta was no different. He had the worst statistical year of his career, totaling 31 receptions for 434 yards and only one touchdown. Those numbers are even worse than his 2013 campaign when he only played in five games.

Even if it wasn’t Fontenot’s initial decision to ship Jones off, the Falcons benefitted, and it seems things could be shaping up the same way with Matt Ryan.

On the surface, many analysts and media pundits believe the Colts got the better of the Falcons after netting a measly third-rounder for Ryan. However, just as Jones has aged and declined physically, Ryan is approaching 37-years-old and has inarguably lost some arm strength. At least one NFL executive believes it is an issue, and Indy will quickly realize it. Mike Sando of The Athletic reports:

“I think age has caught Matt Ryan,” the exec said. “I had him with a big decline last year. Matt has had a phenomenal career, a great quarterback, but it wasn’t like he was super big athletic or, had a super strong arm. I see the skills declining a little bit quicker for him as a result. I think they could be looking at another quarterback in a year.”

Ryan threw for 3,968 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his final season with the Falcons, but his supporting cast certainly hamstrung him and the offense. I don’t necessarily believe he will fall off a cliff, but Ryan’s arm has lost a step. Credit to Terry Fontenot for finally pulling the trigger on the trade because Atlanta is in the midst of a rebuild. With an aging and expensive quarterback, that’s a formula for mediocracy.

However, I’d argue that Fontenot was a year too late on shipping Ryan off. A year ago, it is widely believed the Falcons would’ve received at least one first-rounder for Ryan. Still, the Falcons could end up winning this trade if Ryan’s performance declines and the Colts disappoint in 2022. Much like Julio Jones, Fontenot was forced to trade Ryan but could come out on top.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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