For weeks now, we’ve been thinking about the long-term future of the franchise, including what might happen in the years to come to franchise fixtures and stars like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. While it’s entirely appropriate to wonder what the next regime might do with this roster, it was less sensible to think about the team moving on from either Ryan or Julio at this year’s trade deadline.
That didn’t stop rumors from cropping up, of course, because nothing does. Despite Ryan carrying $75 million in dead money this year and Julio carrying nearly $59 million, some anonymous executives around the league speculated the Falcons might try to do the hard reset on the franchise right now under Rich McKay, despite McKay and Arthur Blank making it clear big decisions would be left to the next general manager and head coach. There were also no shortage of Falcons fans pining for this outcome, but that was always more wishful thinking from fans who wanted to start over and get a top quarterback in this year’s class than anything else, and anyways you expect that from justifiably frustrated fans far more than team executives who really ought to know better.
Happily, we may be able to put these rumors to rest, as multiple reporters clearly got some comments from someone within the Falcons organization today. From NFL insider Ian Rapoport’s latest:
While it’s always fun to throw around big names, a few to cross off are Falcons stars Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Source said neither will be traded at the deadline, despite the 1-5 record and firing of Dan Quinn. Along with the fact that both would be very cap-unfriendly moves, one source described the rumored thought to be “ridiculous.”
Adam Schefter threw his hat in the ring, as well:
With Raheem Morris auditoning for a head coaching job here or elsewhere, the team’s desire to hand over the best possible roster to the next regime, and the frankly insane amount of dead money the team would have to somehow absorb midseason, this was always a weak rumor in want of a quick debunking. Atlanta’s going to try to win more games this year because everyone on the roster and in the coaching staff is interested in having a job somewhere next year, and one of the best ways to show a new coaching staff you belong is by playing hard down the stretch in what is almost certainly a lost season.
All that said, this won’t be the last time we hear about Julio and Ryan in particular, because both are extremely expensive players entering the final legs of their respective careers, whether those legs last two seasons, three seasons, or five seasons. Even true franchise greats are not immune from organizational upheaval, after all, and there are many decisions to be made for this roster in 2021 and beyond. A new front office and coaching staff will get to make decisions on their respective futures on their own, though, and that’s as it should be.