Could Matt Ryan be heading out of Atlanta? And if that happens, is there a way the Chicago Bears could land him? After the Falcons cleaned house and fired former head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, owner Arthur Blank was asked about Ryan’s future with the team, and he was surprisingly non-committal.
Ryan was drafted third overall by the Falcons in the 2008 NFL Draft, and he is still performing well in his 13th season with the Falcons. So far, through five games in 2020, Ryan has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 1,472 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
Blank, however, isn’t ready to say whether or not Ryan is going to be the guy in Atlanta moving forward.
Arthur Blank on Matt Ryan: ‘We’ll Have to See’
When speaking to the media Monday, Blank was asked about the team’s veteran signal caller and his future with the team.
“I love Matt,” Blank said, per ESPN. “Matt’s been a franchise leader for us, great quarterback; one of the leading quarterbacks in the last 13 years in the NFL. I hope he’s going to be part of our plans going forward. But that will be a decision that I won’t make. Matt has the ability to play at a very high level, even at this age. Whether that’s going to continue or not, I’m not sure. I appreciate his willingness to consider doing that and the level at what he’s played for us for 13 years, which has been incredible. So we’ll have to see. But then again, that’s going to be a decision, at the end of the day, that part of it will be up to the player; part of it will be up to the coaching staff. And whether or not Matt can keep himself together. God willing, he’ll be able to do that and play at the level that he’s capable of playing at.”
Phrases like: “I’m not sure” and “We’ll have to see” don’t exactly instill confidence in a player, and Blank’s comments have now gotten trade rumors swirling surrounding his starting quarterback.
PFF: Bears Need to Purse Matty Ice, Stat
Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus suggested Bears’ GM Ryan Pace pursue Matt Ryan even before Blank’s comments, pointing out that despite Nick Foles starting at quarterback, Chicago could still benefit from going after a player of Ryan’s caliber.
“Long-time Atlanta Falcon and future Hall of Famer Matt Ryan can take this team to contention status,” Treash wrote about why Ryan should head to the Windy City. “Given the fact that the … Falcons are in no position to contend in any of Ryan’s final years left of playing and are in the small race for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, trading away the veteran and committing to the tank shouldn’t be off the table. The Bears acquiring Ryan midseason would be something unlike anything we have seen before, but it gives them the best chance to actually contend. If I’m Ryan Pace, I would be … doing everything I can to make this deal.”
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Matt Ryan’s Contract: Is This Even Possible?
Let’s just get this out of the way: the Bears trading for Matt Ryan is about as unlikely as it gets. But if Blank or anyone on the Falcons’ staff had interest in involving Foles or Mitch Trubisky in the trade, things could get very interesting for the Bears. Again — this is not a likely scenario. But if the Bears were to throw a package of Foles and a draft pick or two together, could they even afford Ryan?
With Foles gone, definitely.
Ryan, who turned 35 in May, becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2024, so a trade is the only way the Falcons can unload him if that’s their desire. Ryan’s 2020 salary has a cap hit of $18,962,500, per Over the Cap, and he has a base salary of 23 million next year. After 2021, his guaranteed money gets a lot more team-friendly, too, and contracts can always be restructured.
As long as Chicago continues to have question marks at the most important position in sports, they’ll be linked to every quarterback who may or may not be available. Foles also has an opt out clause in his own contract next year, which is something to monitor, because if he chooses to play elsewhere, a trade for Ryan would become a lot more realistic — if another team doesn’t snatch him up first.