Report: Falcons getting a 4th-round pick in a Matt Ryan trade was seen as “difficult” during NFL Combine

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The Matt Ryan era in Atlanta is over as the Falcons move forward, with Marcus Mariota seemingly as the team’s stopgap quarterback. Atlanta has over $62 million in dead money this year — Matt Ryan and Julio Jones account for more than $46 million of that. Next offseason, the Falcons are looking at a fresh salary cap slate. Given the league’s salary cap is estimated to rise to $220-225 million in 2023, the Falcons should have between $131-136 million in cap space to work with. However, the Falcons’ 2022 season should already be considered a wash.

After trading Ryan to the Colts for a third-rounder, Atlanta incurred a $40.525 million dead cap hit, according to Over The Cap. Ryan’s dead money tops Carson Wentz’s $33.82 million dead cap hit the Eagles absorbed when they traded him to the Colts. The record-breaking dead cap is a difficult pill to swallow, but the former regime’s misguided decision-making made this outcome inevitable.

What makes the entire situation even more challenging to digest is the Falcons’ return for Ryan — a measly third-rounder. Terry Fontenot told members of the media that the Falcons prioritized doing right by Ryan, not maximizing trade compensation, which makes this next report especially puzzling.

In Albert Breer’s latest column, he notes Ryan’s market during the NFL Combine was nothing better than a fourth-round pick.

“Based on Ryan’s age and price tag, it became clear that getting more than a fourth-round pick was going to be difficult.”

Obviously, Fontenot talked Chris Ballard into parting ways with a third-rounder instead.

“Ballard had, more or less, nailed the market price that those talks at the combine established for the Falcons, and made the argument that it was tough to find a comp for a player like Ryan in a trade. Fontenot threw out names that were a little younger, like Alex Smith’s. And eventually, the cajoling got the Colts to move their offer up to the lower of their third-round picks, 82nd overall (the Colts acquired the 73rd pick in the Carson Wentz trade)”

It is peculiar that Fontenot said he prioritized doing right by Ryan instead of maximizing trade compensation. These reports suggest the market for the veteran signal caller wasn’t robust as initially thought to be. It all seems like damage control to me.

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