Matt Ryan’s future has been cloudy since it became clear the 2020 season was not going to be a bounce-back year. 2020 turned into a “prove it” season for Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff. Both were fired. The Falcons had a high draft pick and a new head coach and general manager with no connection to Ryan.
Would the duo decide to move on from Ryan? Atlanta restructured Ryan’s deal and passed on available rookie quarterbacks. At the same time, restructuring Ryan’s deal was almost a necessity, and many believed the Falcons wanted to grab Trey Lance (who went one spot ahead of Atlanta’s draft pick).
Ryan’s future after 2021 was unclear. Per Chris Mortensen of ESPN on NFL Countdown, the Falcons plan to keep Ryan. Mortensen gave a short but clear conclusion: The Falcons will keep Ryan.
Mortensen initially threw cold water on the ongoing rumor that Ryan may be traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. More importantly, Mortensen said that Ryan impressed both new head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot. The decision makers understand that Ryan was not given much help this season and were impressed with what he did in such poor circumstances.
Via Mortensen’s tweet, he highlighted Smith’s impressions of Ryan.
Anyone trying to move Matt Ryan to Pittsburgh as Ben Roethlisberger’s successor can put that speculation to rest.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 9, 2022
Falcons coach Arthur Smith wanted Ryan to return when he took the job & he has made it clear to owner Arthur Blank and GM Terry Fontenot that Ryan is his QB for 2022
From a practical perspective, the Falcons need to clear up cap space to get Ryan some blockers, pass catchers, and maybe some defenders. Addressing Ryan’s deal should be the first step. A reasonable contract extension would do a lot, especially if Ryan would be willing to take less than what he could make in free agency.
It’s worth noting that Arthur Smith did not exactly deny this but did take issue with the idea that it’s a done deal.
Here are Falcons HC Arthur Smith’s full answers when I asked him about @mortreport reporting that he told Fontenot & Blank he wants Matt Ryan to be their QB in 2022: pic.twitter.com/1iRRGIBp6Z— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) January 10, 2022