The Falcons made a significant move yesterday by restructuring Matt Ryan‘s contract and saving $14 million against the 2021 cap. However, that decision does not come without future ramifications.
Atlanta is now essentially stuck with Ryan through at least the 2022 season, whether he performs poorly in Arthur Smith’s new scheme or not. Matty Ice’s dead cap next year is over $40 million, so even if the Falcons designate him a Post-June 1st cut, he will eat up over $20 million in cap space in 2022 and another $20 million in 2023. A trade is also just as difficult, the Falcons would incur a dead cap hit of over $40 million if they traded him next offseason before June 1st, and they would still be on the hook for nearly $24 million in dead money if they traded him after June 1st.
With that in mind, it’s difficult to imagine the Falcons selecting a quarterback with their fourth overall selection, as Alex pointed out yesterday. However, it’s not totally unfathomable. Terry Fontenot has stressed that he will take the best player available in the draft, and I find it hard to believe that he’s already determined in mid-March that none of the quarterbacks are worthy of the 4th pick. If Fontenot falls in love with a QB, he should and will select him. But what I want to take a look at is when was the last time a quarterback was picked in the top-five and asked to sit out at least two years — a situation the Falcons could very well have on their hands.
As you can imagine, it hasn’t happened very often, especially recently. The last example was Philip Rivers back in 2004. However, it worked out pretty well for the Chargers. Rivers made the Pro-Bowl in the first year he was a starter — the first of eight Pro-Bowls he was selected to in 16 seasons with San Diego. So, while there aren’t many examples of quarterbacks going in the top-five sitting out two years, the last one who did may end up in the Hall of Fame.
When you couple that with the lack of success so many quarterbacks recently have experienced after being forced into action far too early, it might not actually be a bad thing for the Falcons to take a quarterback early in the first round and let him sit behind Matt Ryan for two seasons. Of course, if said quarterback begins to outperform Ryan after just one year, the Falcons can always cut ties with Ryan next offseason, even if it involves incurring a hefty amount of dead cap.
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