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Falcons working on Matt Ryan trade with Colts, per multiple reports

Ryan’s future is still cloudy with potentially only hours remaining in Atlanta.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Falcons and Colts appear to be closing in on a deal that would send Matt Ryan to Indianapolis, per multiple reports, potentially ending Ryan’s 14-year career in Atlanta and leaving the team in search of a new franchise quarterback.

The Colts have been a rumored landing spot for Ryan for weeks, predating Atlanta’s doomed attempt to trade for Deshaun Watson, and they remain the most logical landing spot as a playoff-caliber team in the AFC still short a quarterback. We have no word on what the compensation might be or when this might get done, but it sounds like the two sides are close.

Pat McAfee, the longtime Colts punter who presumably still has strong ties to the organization, says the deal is all but done. He also says that it may only be for a third rounder.

The Colts are hoping to get Ryan to end their quarterback carousel for a little while after cycling through Phillip Rivers (who was still pretty good) and Carson Wentz (who melted down at the end of the year). He’ll land on a team that doesn’t appear to be among the AFC’s elite on paper, but could take a step forward with a quality offseason and someone as steady as Ryan at the helm of the offense. Ryan’s not operating at the peak of his powers, but he’s still a damn good quarterback, and the Colts are in the right position in their team-building cycle to bring him in.

The Falcons, meanwhile, will be hoping to get as much draft compensation for Ryan as possible to help accelerate their return to relevance. The plan all offseason seemed to be to move forward with Ryan for one more year—they had a restructure to his deal ready to free up cap space—but now they’ll go into this year needing to find multiple quarterbacks just to make it through this year. Whether they can draft a player capable of taking the reins of the offense over the long haul in 2022 or they’ll need to wait for what’s regarded to be a stronger quarterback class in 2023 remains to be seen, but suffice to say this team seemingly saw not one but two plans for the position this year go up in smoke.

In the end if this trade goes through, they’ll be moving on from the quarterback they drafted with the third overall pick back in 2008 and has been the team’s starter ever since. Ryan is atop the team leaderboard in every significant passing category, obviously, and the Falcons will have no shortage of career highlights to roll out when they bid him farewell. I don’t imagine many people with the franchise, Ryan himself, thought this would be the way it ended.

After the Falcons got involved in the Watson trade pursuit, first as a reported “longshot” and then as a finalist, they had to know that they would either be moving Ryan if they succeeded or probably moving him if they failed. It’s difficult to push a player who has spent that many years with you out the door, even partially, and then walk that back. That’s the position the Falcons found themselves in after Watson chose Cleveland, and now a team that seemed to be slow-rolling a rebuild will try to find a new franchise quarterback. We’ll see if this deal gets done today.

Original story below.

The Atlanta Falcons have dug themselves into a hole with its most recent fiasco. The team was successfully leveraged by Deshaun Watson for more money out of the Cleveland Browns. For the other teams in on Watson, like the Panthers and the Saints, their search for a quarterback continues. For the Falcons, who left Cleveland time to get back in the Watson race because it did not know what to do with Ryan, it is reportedly still unsure what it may do with Ryan.

There are apparently two options: (1) Trade Ryan before his $7.5 million option guarantees on Monday at 4 pm, or (2) keep Ryan in 2022 and possibly pay him more money. The Watson disaster appears to be costly for the Falcons even without landing Watson. Ian Rapoport had the latest.

This is a big change from earlier this month where the Falcons seemed uninterested in trading Ryan. Desperate teams have since found quarterbacks. Now whatever teams remain in on Ryan know Atlanta is in a bad spot. It burned up its relationship with Ryan and can’t compete this year. His value has dropped like a rock.

If the Falcons keep Ryan, that “sweetener” will be millions of dollars. Atlanta’s problem is there is no backup plan without Ryan. Your decent backup/starter-level quarterbacks have been signed. The draft has few quarterbacks expected to start in year 1. Starting a rookie in an offense without blocking or pass catchers is a great recipe to ruining that rookie’s career.

The entire situation has been bumbled. Atlanta has no good options. It can keep Ryan but it probably needs to agree to a big financial apology. If it doesn’t keep Ryan, it has no good options for his replacement, essentially defaulting into a multi-year rebuild.

Ryan’s future will be known by Monday at 4.