Matthew Stafford was traded, but another Matt is likely staying put.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday on Super Bowl Live that the Atlanta Falcons aren’t expected to trade quarterback Matt Ryan this offseason.
“From what I am told, Matt Ryan is not going anywhere,” Pelissero said. “The Falcons have not had any trade conversations about Ryan or their star wide receiver Julio Jones. And every expectation is both players are going to be on the roster in 2021.”
Pelissero noted that Falcons’ new coach Arthur Smith plans to run a similar offense to the Kyle Shanahan-led scheme that led to Ryan winning the NFL MVP award in 2016.
It’s clear that Ryan has years of good football left, and the Falcons appear in no hurry to completely reshuffle the deck in the first year under Smith and new GM Terry Fontenot, who is very familiar with Ryan from his days in New Orleans.
The other (main) reason Atlanta will stick with Ryan in 2021 is the massive dead-money cap hit it’d take by jettisoning the 35-year-old QB. The Falcons would be on the hook for more than $44 million in dead money in 2021 if Ryan is traded before June 1, per Pelissero. For comparison, Jared Goff just set the record for the biggest dead-money hit in L.A. at $22.2 million.
In a year when the salary cap is expected to be down significantly, the Falcons, currently projected to be over the cap, aren’t keen on taking a ridiculous cap hit to move on from Ryan.
The veteran signal-caller on the roster should not stop Atlanta from considering using the No. 4 overall pick on a quarterback if it believes the heir-apparent is available in that spot. It would be less painful to get out of Ryan’s contract in subsequent seasons, and the savvy vet could be a mentor to a young QB.
Taking Ryan off the market in 2021 lessens the options for the likes of the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots, among others, who are in the market for a veteran quarterback. With Ryan staying put for at least one more season, more emphasis will be on the free-agent QB market that could get wild when the new league year opens on March 17.
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