Let the Matt Ryan speculation begin, folks.
The headlines surrounding the Falcons this offseason will begin and end with their veteran quarterback. Without having an ear inside the building, there is really no way to be sure how the front office and staff feel about Ryan. However, the media will have a field day speculating on the matter.
Ryan is in the twilight years of his career. He’s certainly capable of leading a competent team to the postseason, but that isn’t the Falcons. Ryan isn’t going to go to an average team and immediately making them playoff contenders like Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady would. He hasn’t really ever been capable of elevating his team to excellence as other quarterbacks have, and that certainly remains true at this point. That isn’t to say his ability isn’t good enough to bring a well-rounded roster like the Broncos to the postseason.
Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot will have to decide where they see this ship heading. Based on the regime’s first offseason, I would think they’d keep Ryan as they continue to reshape the personnel. He gives them the best chance to win, and that seems to be their only focus. The typical roster overhaul and rebuild don’t seem to be this regime’s M.O., although they might not have the luxury to keep him.
Ryan’s $48.7 million cap hit in 2022 will make it nearly impossible to build a decent supporting cast around him without nailing every draft pick in the 2022 NFL draft. With the amount of dead cap tied to his contract, Ryan being cut isn’t an option. Trading him is undoubtedly a possibility, though. The team would receive cap relief and future draft capital, the Falcons’ only motivation to move him.
Regardless of how improbable, Ryan could force his way out of Atlanta as Julio Jones did last spring, though it seems highly unlikely. But then again, what Jones did was a complete blindside for Falcons fans. So, it is reasonable to talk about the possibilities for all of those reasons. I still think the Falcons begin next season with Ryan under center, and I’m not alone.
NFL Insider Michael Lombardi believes the same. On 92.9’s Midday Show, Lombardi explained his thought process on whether the Falcons could trade or restructure Ryan’s contract.
“Who’s going to replace him?” Lombardi told the cohosts. “And they lose $40 million of dead money if they cut him–if they do it before June–and $8 million if they do it after June. He does have trade value. At (age) 37, I don’t know how much trade value. But he has shown that he can still play effectively behind a good offensive line.”
Then Andy and Randy asked Lombardi if he thinks Ryan will be the starting quarterback to start the 2022 season.
“I think he is,” Lombardi told them. “I think the time to replace Matt Ryan was last year.”