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With a frenzy of moves at the beginning of the of the NFL’s new year, it might be hard to keep up. The free agency period has been ripe with trades so far and (of course) big time signings.
Some, we could see a mile away, where as with others, we kind of had to drive all the way up to the end to see.
One such move that falls under that last category is the trade of the Atlanta Falcons’ former quarterback Matt Ryan. Even though they endure a dead money cap hit of about $40 million, Atlanta sent their veteran signal caller to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round draft pick (2022).
The Colts will control Ryan’s contract for two seasons, which will pay him $24.7 million in 2022 and 2023. A substantial drop in what Atlanta was shelling out for him.
The Falcons were left in limbo after their pursuit of quarterback Deshaun Watson failed. Ryan was owed a substantial amount of money and was about to receive a $7.5 million bonus on Monday before the trade went down.
The Colts were a team that just missed the playoffs last year. All they needed was one more win and last year’s starter Carson Wentz couldn’t deliver. Wentz has been sent to the Washington Commanders and the Colts were in need of a veteran.
Ryan is a former MVP who can provide a steady hand to an offense that will pretty much hand the ball off to Jonathan Taylor. When well protected and given time, Ryan can pick apart defenses. He also works great off of play-action and having Taylor in the backfield will make that a more lethal situation.
Although the Colts don’t have a draft pick in the first 41 selections, they have three picks in the next 41. They can add some weapons to go with wide receiver Michael Pittman. With the team’s potent rushing attack coupled with more targets, it could help produce some impressive offensive numbers with Ryan at the helm.
This is why the Colts envisioned Ryan as the missing piece to a deep playoff run.
Left In The Nest
How do the Falcons replace the franchise leader in passing yards, touchdowns and game winning drives? There probably isn’t an easy answer but Atlanta finds themselves in that situation.
The team signed Marcus Mariota to take over in the interim. Mariota hasn’t started a game since the 2019 season. He does provide a dual threat at the quarterback position and he has some familiarity with head coach Arthur Smith.
The Falcons should be seeking out a long term solution whether in this year’s draft or next year.
Atlanta has three picks in the top 60 in this year’s draft, including the No. 8th pick overall. None of the quarterback prospects this year are viewed as immediate starters but most scouts view them as project starters you might have to sit for a year or two.
Atlanta will need upgrades at several positions and drafting a quarterback this year might not be the plan. They will have to get the ball rolling on that search, because the future is (all a sudden) now.