Matt Ryan has been the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons for a long time. Long enough that the player who holds virtually every significant passing record for the franchise turns 36 before the start of the 2021 season.
Jeff Schultz of The Athletic asked Ryan that question on 680 the Fan, and Ryan responded in a professional manner.
“Part of being on a team is you’re going to be a good teammate and help where you can and you also have the personal responsibility of trying to be the best player you can be,” said Ryan. “Whatever happens at that spot, we’re all professionals, we all understand how this goes.”
As the team has struggled the past two seasons, Ryan has been seen as possible trade bait in rebuilding efforts. However, moving him would have such a negative effect on the Falcons salary cap situation that any deal seems self defeating.
Ryan staying with the Falcons and drafting a quarterback in April’s NFL Draft could prove to be the best of both worlds. Ryan is still playing at a high level, which would give a quarterback taken in the first round a settling in period. That could prove even more beneficial as new head coach Arthur Smith installs his offense and personnel early in his tenure.
Taking a quarterback in this draft makes sense for a variety of reasons.
The Falcons don’t expect to have a top five draft pick in the next two seasons. They might not have the chance to take a franchise quarterback when Ryan is eventually done playing.
As stated, grooming a rookie behind a still productive Ryan would be beneficial long term for the player’s development.
The quarterback class of 2021 is loaded. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence will go N0. 1 overall to Jacksonville, but Ohio State’s Justin Fields and BYU’s Zach Wilson are both considered top five talents as well. There’s quality in the lower part of the round too if the Falcons decide to trade down for someone like Alabama’s Mac Jones.
Ryan’s career with the Atlanta Falcons is nearing its conclusion, and he has come to grips with that. He’s still capable of playing at a high level, but he’ll eventually be replaced.
His replacement could be on the Falcons roster after the April’s NFL Draft.