Is it time for these Falcons legends to hang up their cleats?

NFL: DEC 29 Falcons at Buccaneers

While I believe it’s never our place to advise a professional athlete when to retire, it’s valid to broach the subject, particularly when it concerns our favorite teams. It may be time to commence discussions about the approaching twilight of the careers of two Falcons legends — Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.

Ryan’s career since the magical 2016 Super Bowl run hasn’t gone as he’d hoped. Until the 2022 campaign, he and the Falcons had been synonymous. While he regressed in recent seasons, most fans, including Falcons fans, chalked up the shortcomings to his supporting cast.

However, his time with the Colts, who also didn’t deliver for Ryan, showed us he might not have what it takes to be a starting quarterback anymore. He went 4-7-1 as the starter, posting a career low in touchdowns. He ended up with 3,057 yards, 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and 15 fumbles. His offensive line struggled, and he didn’t have a ton of weapons; it wasn’t all his fault, but his arm clearly took a step back.

It might be difficult for some Falcons fans to admit, but it’s probably time Matty Ice calls it a career. He’s already halfway out the door, working with CBS as a broadcast analyst, which he has shown an innate ability to do. His former teammate and future Hall of Fame wideout, Julio Jones, might soon follow.

Injuries have caught up to the former superstar. He’s only played in 29 of 50 possible games over the last three years on three different clubs. In 10 games last season, he only recorded 24 receptions for 299 yards and two scores.

In the NFC Wild Card game against the Cowboys, Jones made seven catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. However, this performance seems more like an exception rather than the norm for his recent career trajectory. Since 2019, he has dealt with an array of injuries affecting his foot, hip, ankle, hamstring, shoulder, and knee.

Jones’ game is built on his big body and explosive play style, which he’s lost in recent years. He’s still a surefire Hall of Famer, but his body simply cannot withstand a full season anymore. It’s not to say he couldn’t be a midseason addition for a contender; he’s just not going to be putting up 1,000+ yards in a season anymore.

Photographer: Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire

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