The Atlanta Falcons have officially signaled the end of the Matt Ryan era — one which spanned 14 years and ushered in an unprecedented level of the success the franchise had never seen before — trading the signal caller to the Indianapolis Colts. The team will get back a 2022 3rd round pick from the Colts.
The Falcons moved quickly on a Ryan trade, racing against the clock to ensure that a move was made before his roster bonus triggered on Monday at 4 p.m. eastern time. Number 2 now looks poised to close out his career in Indianapolis.
Ryan had two years remaining on his five year/$150 million contract which began in 2018. He was set to have a record breaking $48.6 million cap hit which was originally in the process of getting restructured, before that strategy fell through when the team set its sights on Deshaun Watson, last week. The restructure was never officially submitted to the NFL.
This year, the trade of Ryan will carry a dead cap hit of $40.5 million and save the Falcons a little over $8.1 million in cap space. We’ll see if the Colts agreed to take on more salary as part of the trade, but there are no immediate indications they did.
Ryan finishes out his career as a Falcon owning every single major passing record there is to possess. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and became the only Falcon ever to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award, in 2016.
Before Ryan entered the fray as the number three overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Falcons had never even enjoyed back to back winning seasons since their inception in 1966. Ryan’s Falcons immediately had four consecutive such seasons upon his arrival.
In the 42 years before Ryan, the Falcons had won their division three times and had made the playoffs eight times. In Ryan’s 14 years, Atlanta matched those three division crowns and appeared in the postseason six times.
Matt Ryan is the most successful quarterback in Falcons history, and I would argue is the greatest Falcon ever. He changed the trajectory of the Falcons and made them relevant, after four decades spent largely in the wilderness with flashes of great success with Chris Chandler and Michael Vick at the helm. Today is the end of an era.