After a relatively quiet free agency, the Colts have finally made a move to provide a stopgap at the quarterback position and pulled the trigger on a trade for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Matt Ryan is due to earn $23.75M cash in 2022, including a $7.5M roster bonus that vests end of day today.— Spotrac (@spotrac) March 21, 2022
The #Colts hold an estimated $40M of cap space right now.
The #Falcons are poised to take a $40.5M dead cap hit if this trade is processed. https://t.co/ReQZA6D5Nf
Ryan, who will be 37 years old at the start of the 2022 season, has been a reliable presence under center in Atlanta since he came into the league in 2008. With four Pro Bowl appearances, a First-Team All-Pro, and an MVP season under his belt, there is no doubt that Ryan has the pedigree of a winner. Add to that an established history as a great locker room leader and man of the community, and it is a great fit.
The real question is, can he still play at a high level? In 2021, Matt Ryan ranked 21st in DVOA, and from 2018-2021 he has ranked 20th in EPA/dropback. Matthew Stafford by comparison, ranked 23rd over the four years prior to his trade in EPA/dropback, and finished 2020 14th in DVOA. Colts fans will be hoping that Frank Reich can provide the kind of bump he has frequently given for his quarterbacks, and that Matt Ryan can have the kind of season that Stafford did that led him and a talented roster to a Super Bowl win.
Chris Ballard and the front office have a job cut out for them providing a more talented group of receivers to Ryan and this offense. They have been conservative as usual with their acquisitions, and there are a number of missing pieces on an offense that will not have the benefit of Carson Wentz’s mobility with Ryan under center. The pass protection will have to be far better, and the team will likely have to rely heavily on the draft for receiving options.
However, Matt Ryan has not had a running game that ranked in the top half of the league since 2016. The year he won the MVP and went to the Super Bowl. With Jonathan Taylor more than capable of carrying the offense when needed, perhaps this is Ryan’s chance to get a fresh start, and maybe the Colts’ chance to be competitive again while they figure out their long-term solution at quarterback.