The wheels are beginning to fall off the wheels in Atlanta as the Falcons have already fired their coach and their GM this year and very well could be looking for a complete overhaul with the team. One of those guys could be Matt Ryan, as trade rumors swirled around the deadline this season, but ultimately passed with no action.
At 35 years old, he’s still got some good football in him. But I can’t imagine a player of his caliber and age wants to be a part of a rebuilding program and if that’s the direction Arthur Blank goes, Ryan could want out.
His contract is a bit of a problem, with three years left on his deal and he will have a cap hit of $40.9 million next season. But there are some teams out there that if they have or can clear cap space, should be at least making phone calls Atlanta’s way.
Here are four intriguing trade destinations for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan this offseason.
San Francisco 49ers
This almost makes too much sense to happen. The tandem of Ryan and now-49ers coach Kyle Shanahan worked well together in Atlanta in the 2016-17 season, bringing the Falcons to the Super Bowl before the 28-3 collapse to the New England Patriots.
Ryan earned the NFL MVP that season, throwing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns, with just slightly under a 70% completion rate. It was by far his best overall season and since then, he hasn’t really touched the complete star performance he had that year.
Of course, there is the Jimmy Garoppolo question that remains in San Francisco, and it’s a very expensive one. $137.5 million in fact. Despite being one of the higher paid QB’s in the league and bringing the 49ers to a Super Bowl last season, it’s unclear if Jimmy G is the long-term answer for the 49ers. He was sub-par in that Super Bowl loss, and has been underwhelming in the limited games he’s seen this year because of injuries.
If the 49ers trade or waive Garoppolo this offseason, that opens up the cap space for the possibility of a reunion with Ryan and Shanahan. Ryan won’t have as strong of weapons as he did in Atlanta, but the 49ers’ defense, when healthy, is far and beyond better than the Falcons’, giving him a better chance to find team success.
The Nick Foles experiment and the Mitch Trubisky experience have left Bears fans more often with headaches and anger than happiness with the QB position.
Trubisky has yet to live up to the No. 2 overall selection that he was and the Internet/broadcasts never fail to mention how the Bears passed on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes for Trubisky.
A big message was sent when the Bears not only declined Trubisky’s fifth option for 2021, but also traded for Foles this offseason. Despite this, Trubisky was given the chance this season to be the starter, but lost that job to Foles by Week 4 after being benched in Week 3’s game against the Falcons.
Yet Foles hasn’t been the answer either. After propelling the Bears to a comeback win against the Falcons in that Week 3 matchup, Foles has since thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns (7), while only finishing twice with a QB rating over 90.0. And now Foles finds himself sidelined with an injury.
It’s a bit of a mess in Chicago, but Matt Ryan could be the guy to help clean it up. With star wide receiver Allen Robinson heading to free agency this offseason, the Bears will have to do everything they can to try and lure him back, otherwise the wide receiving corps drastically dips. Getting him a solid QB is a great starting point and Ryan should be at the top of the list.
New England Patriots
Much like the Bears bringing in Foles, it’s been and up-and-down season for Cam Newton in New England. There have been times where Newton look comfortable and can act as a field general, while also proving to be a threat on the ground.
But Newton has five touchdowns through the air and nine interceptions. He’s only thrown for over 200 yards three times in 11 games. And he has games like against Arizona and earlier in the year against San Francisco where he’s posted a QB rating under 40 and throwing multiple interceptions.
Ultimately, this final stretch will determine if the Patriots re-up Newton for the future or if they decide to look elsewhere. With the Patriots in that limbo where they’re not a clear contender, yet aren’t in a complete rebuild, depending on which direction they go will determine if they’re willing to give up assets to bring in an older quarterback like Ryan.
You have to imagine the word “tanking” isn’t in Bill Belichick’s vocabulary. Ryan still has some good football in him for years to come, and with Patriots likely missing out on the top QB’s in the draft, they should turn to the offseason to find their next quarterback.
The Colts brought in Philip Rivers on a one-year deal and he’s been a tad inconsistent this year, but he’s shown flashes of being a strong QB. However, he’s 39 years old and could very well be on his way out of the NFL, and given his play this year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Colts let him walk.
The Colts also seem likely to move on from backup QB Jacoby Brissett, who will be a free agent at the end of this year. That leaves rookie QB Jacob Eason to be the starter if neither return.
Much like why they gave Rivers a one-year deal, the Colts are operating in a win-now mode with a ton of cap space this offseason. They can afford to bring in a guy like Matt Ryan with the space they have, especially on his contract. He could give them a few years of upper-tier QB play and continue the push for a return to the Super Bowl.
Ryan could very well be the missing piece that powers the Colts to a Super Bowl. It’s well worth the risk for Indianapolis.