“From what I am told, Matt Ryan is not going anywhere,” Pelissero said Tuesday on Super Bowl Live. “The Falcons have not had any trade conversations about Ryan or their star wide receiver Julio Jones. And every expectation is both players are going to be on the roster in 2021.”
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Why It Makes Sense to Keep Ryan & Jones In 2021
Pelissero listed two big reasons why Ryan, along with Jones, won’t be going anywhere this season.
“It makes sense for a couple of reasons”, Pelissero explained. “One, the Falcons just hired a head coach Arthur Smith, who is going to run a variation of the same offense in which Ryan won the MVP four years ago. And number two, there would be a significant cap penalty from moving on from either of these players. Ryan, alone, would account for over $44 million dollars in dead money on the 2021 cap if he were traded before June 1st.”
Smith will be running a similar offense to when 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan was the Falcons’ OC in 2016. That season, Ryan completed 69.9% of his passes for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He was named MVP and led the Falcons to a Super Bowl (no need to recap).
If the Falcons waited until after June 1st to trade Ryan, it would be around an $18 million cap hit for this season and once again next season. Jones also has a combined cap hit of over $42 million over the course of the next two seasons.
The Falcons will already be struggling this season with cap space due to COVID-19 taking a toll on how much each team will be getting. According to Pro Football Focus’ Mike Florio, the projected cap hit won’t be lower than $175 million but is rumored to be around $180 million and Atlanta is already nearly $36 million over the projected cap for 2021.
Smith’s Offensive Plan Revolves Around Matt Ryan
Smith is coming off two great seasons as the Titans offensive coordinator where he was credited for turning quarterback Ryan Tannehill around.
Under Smith, Tannehill won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award and made the Pro Bowl in 2019. Tannehill that success this season, posting a passer rating of 106.5 while leading the Titans to an 11-5 finish and playoff appearance.
Smith plans to bring the same approach he took in Tennessee to Atlanta.
“We’re going to play to Matt’s strengths just like we tried to play to Ryan’s strengths”, Smith said during his introductory press conference.
He is also aware of the talent he will have to work with outside of Ryan.
“It’s more than Matt and Julio (Jones),” Smith said. “There’s a lot of talented players on this roster, whether you’re talking about Chris Lindstrom, Grady Jarrett. … The roster today is gonna look different to September and as you get to Week 17. It’s a constant evolution. There’s a lot of talent here that we’ll want to build off of. But I can’t give you any snap judgments today because we’re still early in this process.”