It was the same year Falcons’ starting quarterback Michael Vick was in prison for dogfighting and coach Bobby Petrino left Atlanta in the dust, bolting to Arkansas. The Falcons didn’t have any quality backup QB options and it looked like the team was headed down a bad slope.
Then Ryan stepped in and turned the franchise around, at least for a little while. An MVP quarterback with record-breaking stats and still no Super Bowl ring leaves people questioning how much longer he has in Atlanta.
This includes former Vikings quarterback and current NFL analyst, Sean Salisbury, who doesn’t consider Matt Ryan a top 10 quarterback anymore and would have traded him.
Heavy.com caught up with Salisbury, who spoke on behalf of Pickwise, a popular online gambling website featuring free sports picks, the best sportsbooks, and betting tips to spare yourself time from researching.
Falcons Made No Trades This Season
The NFL trade deadline was on November 3rd this year and the Falcons stayed fairly quiet. Weeks before, however, there were rumors swirling around Matt Ryan‘s name, until Falcons President Rich McKay shut them down.
It looks like Ryan will finish another season in Atlanta. But, if it were up to Salisbury, the Falcons would have a new QB1.
“I would have considered trading him. I wouldn’t have given him away, but he’s getting a little older,” Salisbury told Heavy.com.
Why the Falcons didn’t trade him is interesting after starting the 2020 season with an 0-5 record that ended Dan Quinn’s head coaching career. But, it could have been expensive for them.
Come next fall, Ryan has a cap hit of over $40 million. By 2022, his contract has a potential out, but the dead cap hit is still way over $26 million.
There’s always a way around contracts though, and we have seen it each season with the Falcons. Salisbury said he would have made some calls, especially to a team in need like the 49ers.
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Atlanta’s Struggle to Close Out Games Comes Down to Ryan
While Salisbury doesn’t think of Ryan as a terrible quarterback, he thinks the 35-year-old isn’t the MVP guy he used to be.
The Falcons look great on paper, but that doesn’t win games. Being able to play through all four quarters wins games.
“I think that franchise has DNA that says we don’t know how to close out games and I don’t mean such as it’s not just him, a lot of them, they’re horrible”, Salisbury said. “They haven’t been able to hold leads and they just haven’t got over that Superbowl lead that they blew a lot of respect for Matt Ryan.”
So far this season, the Falcons have blown five leads, including last Sunday in their win against the Broncos. They had a lead after halftime, but then let Denver catch up to tie them. Still, Atlanta somehow managed to pull off the win.
Matt Ryan Isn’t Overrated
While Ryan continues to be a consistent passer, all the mistakes ultimately come down to him, leaving fans and analysts saying he’s “overrated,” when in fact, he probably deserves a Super Bowl ring, though it’s not going to happen in Atlanta.
“A couple more years of these numbers and he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame and he and that’s without a Super Bowl because he ain’t winning one on that team in the next couple years or whenever he retires”, Salisbury noted. “So, depending on where you hold him now if somebody says, “Is he a top-five quarterback?”, I’d say “no” and then I’d say well you’ve got him “overrated. If you say throughout his career is even overrated. I’d say no, look at the numbers, he’s put up great numbers, but part of the great numbers is being able to close out wins, whether it’s because of you or not because of you.”
Keeping Matt Ryan around a little longer isn’t such a bad thing as he’s throwing for 2,746 yards and 15 touchdowns with a 78.7% passer rating so far this season. Still, finding a better, more modern QB will have to happen if Atlanta wants to see another Super Bowl apperance.
“I don’t think Matt Ryan’s overrated. I just don’t think Matt Ryan’s a top 10 quarterback anymore.