According to multiple league sources, the Indianapolis Colts have now finalized trading for Atlanta Falcons veteran quarterback Matt Ryan, surrendering just their 2022 third round pick (No. 82) in the process to land the former 2016 NFL MVP:
Trade!! The #Falcons are in agreement on a trade of QB Matt Ryan to the #Colts, per @MikeGarafolo, @TomPelissero and me. ATL gets a 3rd back.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 21, 2022
Fallout from the Deshaun Watson situation, with Ryan starting over in Indy. Ryan gets a contract adjustment with more guaranteed money.
The Colts traded pick No. 82, their original pick, for Ryan, a source says. So the third-rounder they keep is No. 73 from Washington.— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAErickson) March 21, 2022
After the Falcons made a serious, but ultimately failed pursuit for ex-Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson this past week, who ended up with the Cleveland Browns, Ryan was facing a critical career crossroads with the only franchise he’s ever known.
The longtime Falcons starting quarterback reportedly wanted a chance to win on a built to win roster—after having been potentially pushed aside for the younger Watson, or maybe the Falcons just didn’t want to pay his owed money on a rebuilding roster—electing to gain some draft compensation back for an aging veteran, but either way, Ryan will now be joining the Horseshoe as its new starter:
Here’s what Indy is scheduled to owe Matt Ryan:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 21, 2022
2022: $7.5M roster bonus, $16.25M salary
2023: $7.5M roster bonus, $20.5M salary
I'm told there will be no significant changes to Matt Ryan's contract after his trade to the Colts from the Falcons. So, Colts have him for two years at $24.7 million this year and $28.2 million in 2023 (based on his present contract terms.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) March 21, 2022
In some regards, the 14-year veteran should be a stark contrast to his failed Colts predecessor, Carson Wentz, as with much more limited mobility, he also comes with greater leadership skills, accuracy, anticipation, and the ability to play smart football within Indy head coach Frank Reich’s quarterback friendly offense.
The former 3rd overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft completed 375 of 560 pass attempts (67%) for 3,968 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions during 17 starts this past season. With 222 career starts, Ryan brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Colts’ huddle—with seemingly a high football I.Q.
As a former league MVP, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, NFL Rookie of the Year, NFL First-Team All-Pro, and 4x NFL Pro Bowler, Ryan’s impressive career resume speaks for itself.
That being said, expectations should be tempered a bit.
Turning 37 years old in May, Ryan’s production has dipped the past three seasons—albeit on some rebuilding Falcons teams (with admittedly, not the strongest supporting casts to his credit on both sides of the ball), and his never excessively strong arm—even in his football prime, has declined a bit.
That being said, he can still be an effective game manager for the Colts in the 2020 Philip Rivers’ mold—maybe with a little stronger arm (from the then 39 years old Rivers), and a few more explosive passing plays downfield.
Backed with Jonathan Taylor and an oftentimes, dominant Indy ground game, the Colts don’t necessarily need their next starter to be ‘Superman’, just to play smart, efficient, winning football—while making a few big throws a game. However, adding another dynamic weapon or two at wide receiver or tight end would certainly help Ryan’s new Colts’ cause.
The good news is that after a loooong few weeks, the Colts’ seemingly never-ending standoff at starting quarterback is finally over, and this theoretical ‘high stakes game of poker’ may not have been that high of a ‘Casino Royale’ price after all with just a third round pick as an Indy buy in.
While Ryan’s arrival will still keep the Colts continuously searching for a potential long-term answer behind the scenes, he’s good enough to be at least a rock solid two-year stopgap in Indianapolis — with a much stronger chance now, compared to yesterday, to regain the AFC South crown again and earn a playoff spot.