With the NFL offseason right around the corner, ’tis the season for hiring and trade speculation to spread like wildfire — which is especially relevant for an Atlanta Falcons team staring at a tough head coaching decision and roster rebuild.
A few weeks back, ESPN’s Get Up aired a segment where host Mike Greenberg gave legs to the idea that acquiring the former MVP passer would be huge for Indy. However, when the league’s November 3 trade deadline rolled around and the Falcons didn’t budge, neither did the Colts.
“If Matt Ryan was on the Indianapolis Colts by the end of this season, they’d look like a Super Bowl team”, Greenberg said on October 13. “They’re missing one piece, and that one piece is the quarterback of the Falcons right now.”
Fast forward to a week before Christmas and Ryan to the Colts is still up in the air.
Why Matt Ryan to Indy Makes Sense
The latest to bring up the rumor is Sportsnaut’s Vincent Frank.
“Indianapolis seems to have a roster capable of competing for a Super Bowl appearance, Frank wrote on December 13. “However, the team’s quarterback situation has let it down since Andrew Luck’s shocking retirement ahead of the 2019 NFL season. The Colts attempted to rectify that by signing borderline future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers back in March. Through five games, the 38-year-old Rivers has accounted for four touchdowns compared to five interceptions. He seems to be done.”
But is the four-time Pro Bowler any better for them?
Aside from some struggles in the second half of this season, mainly due to Atlanta’s poor defense which has allowed the second-most yards per play (6.1) to opposing offenses, Ryan is still performing at a high level at 35 years old. It might not show in the win column in 2020, but he has thrown for 3,660 yards through 13 starts — sixth-most by any quarterback this season including Rivers, Buffalo’s Josh Allen and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.
More impressively, Ryan, who has reached 54,846 career passing yards with three games left to play this season, has also managed to surpass Colts legend Peyton Manning (54,828) in the category over the first 13 years of their respective careers. Manning, who played four more seasons for Denver after 13 years in Indianapolis, still leads Ryan by 17,094 yards on the all-time passing list, however.
Meanwhile, Rivers has no MVP award to his credit, no Super Bowl appearances in 17 seasons and has gagged in the playoffs with only a 5-6 record, 59.4% completion percentage, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to show over 11 postseason games. A change in Indy could be called for if Rivers is unable to push the Colts into the AFC playoffs despite a strong, complementary defense and 9-4 record heading into Week 15.
Follow the Heavy on Falcons Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!
A Change in Atlanta Could Be Nice, Too
While Atlanta didn’t deal Ryan during the season, the offseason will give the Falcons front office more time to evaluate their roster and salary cap situation. According to Spotrac.com, Atlanta currently boasts the sixth-oldest roster in the league (26.42 years old) while possessing just north of $3 million in available cap space, fourth-worst in the NFL.
It’s clear that interim head coach Raheem Morris is all for Ryan staying in Atlanta, but if Morris doesn’t get the permanent coaching job heading into 2021, then who cares what he thinks? And with no general manager signed yet either, that leaves owner Arthur Blank and team president Rich McKay in charge of Ryan’s future.
Some say it’s impossible to get around Ryan’s contract, but McKay has said otherwise.
“We have a lot of really good football players paid at a very high level that impacts our salary cap,” McKay said in October, via ESPN. “That said, I’ve always believed that salary cap is something that you can maneuver around, you can work within, and you can operate within. I’m not intimidated by it.”
If the Falcons are changing up the coaching staff and a general manager, a change at quarterback could make sense, too.