Matt Ryan Opens Up About Falcons Departure, Deshaun Watson Pursuit

Matt Ryan

Getty Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan shared why he requested a trade from the Atlanta Falcons.

Although there have been hints of how Matt Ryan felt about the Atlanta Falcons reportedly pursuing a Deshaun Watson trade this offseason, the quarterback hasn’t directly addressed it.

At least he hadn’t until appearing on the most recent episode of The Ryen Russillo Podcast.

The new Indianapolis Colts quarterback spoke candidly for the first time about his exit with the Falcons on The Ryen Russillo Podcast. Most notable, Ryan admitted there is “a pretty good chance” that had the Falcons not pursued Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, then he would be preparing for his 15th season in Atlanta.

“Had none of this gone down, there’s probably a chance. A pretty good chance,” Ryan said when Russillo asked if he’d still be with the Falcons had Atlanta not tried to trade for Watson. “But it did.”

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Deshaun Watson Pursuit Began Matt Ryan’s Search to Play Elsewhere

Ryan began his interview with Russillo explaining that he and the Falcons ended the 2021 season with the understanding that he’d return in 2022. Ryan signed a five-year contract worth $150 million, with an average annual salary of $30 million, in 2018.

Going into the season, Ryan was set to count as about a $48.7 million cap hit, the largest for one player in NFL history.

Most of that would become dead cap money if Ryan was dealt. Therefore, a trade seemed unlikely.

All of that changed, though, when the Falcons elected to pursue Watson.

“I kind of got filled in to the loop that they were gonna look into Deshaun Watson,” Ryan told Russillo on the podcast. “At that point, I said, ‘Okay, I understand,’ but I also need to look into what I need to look into, and if this doesn’t go down, find out if this is probably still the best fit for me.”

The quarterback may have chosen his words very carefully at the beginning of that answer. NFL Insider Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported on March 16 that the Falcons informed Ryan that they were attempting to trade for Watson.

But Ryan’s sister-in-law, Maggie Ryan, responded to Mortensen on Twitter denying that report.

It remains unclear who “filled” Ryan “into the loop” that the Falcons were meeting with Watson.

It’s water under the bride now. On The Ryen Russillo Podcast, Ryan continued to explain that once he began looking around, the Colts became a more attractive spot for himself and his family.

But that probably never happens if the Falcons don’t go after Watson.

“When the situation is changed, when the circumstances change, I had always thought — like everybody — when you’re drafted there and you play there, this is where I’m going to play my entire career,” Ryan said. “[For] 14 years, every day I woke up to try to help the Falcons win a championship. And that had been reciprocated on the other end for me.

“When that changed, I had to look into it, and it’s certainly been a big change for sure, but a good one.

“So, it’s hard to say, but honestly, it’s more than likely I probably would’ve still been there if circumstances had been different. But I’m excited with where I’m at.”

Colts Making Matt Ryan Feel Wanted

The Falcons may have stopped supporting Ryan according to the veteran quarterback. But in Indianapolis, Ryan has the full support of the Colts organization.

Some draft experts predicted the Colts to develop a succession plan at quarterback by drafting a quarterback this year. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Colts picked two pass catchers and then a potential long-term starting left tackle with their first three selections.

All three of those picks are going to directly help Ryan.

Colts owner Jim Irsay told the media on April 30 that the team views its new quarterback as a potential three-year starter. Ryan will turn 37 on May 17.

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