Report: Falcons restructure of Ryan doesn’t mean they won’t draft a QB 4th overall

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Yesterday, the Falcons opted to bite the bullet and restructure Matt Ryan’s contract, reducing his cap hit from $40.9 million to $26.9 million. While that sounds fantastic, it doesn’t come without some ramifications.

Essentially, the Falcons have committed to Ryan through at least the 2022 season. They can cut or trade him next offseason, but they will be on the hook for over $40 million in dead cap if they do so before June 1st. Even cutting or trading him with a post-June 1st designation would cost the Falcons over $20 million in cap space. So, the Falcons can move on from Ryan after 2021 if he preforms poorly, but it would be quite the gut-punch.

Because of this, many believe this takes the Falcons out of the quarterback sweepstakes with the 4th overall pick. After all, how many times do you see a QB drafted in the top-five and sit for two years? It just doesn’t happen. However, according to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, a source close to the team told him that new Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot didn’t feel like he had a choice but to restructure Ryan’s hefty contract and that the decision doesn’t take quarterback out of the question with 4th pick in the draft.

From the piece:

A source said Fontenot believed he had no other viable options and that this decision does not necessarily change the Falcons’ thinking on drafting a quarterback with the fourth overall pick or sometime early in this draft. Fontenot and new coach Arthur Smith both have acknowledged the need to prepare for Ryan’s and Julio Jones‘ exit.

It’s difficult to imagine the Falcons taking a quarterback that early while seemingly being tied to Ryan for two more seasons. But in the same breath, franchise quarterbacks are not something general managers should pass on. If Fontenot falls in love with one of the QBs in the class, he shouldn’t hesitate in selecting him.

At the end of the day, they can figure out what to do with Ryan later. If they have to eat 20+ million of dead money next offseason, so be it. However, everything should still be on the table as we approach April 29th.

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