With Matthew Stafford off the market, teams interested in acquiring other accomplished quarterbacks may not need to look toward Atlanta. Last weekend’s Lions-Rams blockbuster shows nothing can be completely ruled out, but the Falcons are not looking to part ways with either of their two cornerstone players this year.
The Falcons have not engaged in any trade talks regarding Matt Ryan or Julio Jones, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (video link). Both Falcon stars are expected to be part of Arthur Smith‘s first Atlanta squad.
Ryan stands in an interesting situation. He will be set to play for a third head coach, but Smith will be the first offense-geared leader to lead the Falcons in Ryan’s tenure. The Falcons also hold the highest draft choice they have possessed since drafting Ryan in 2008, presenting a prime opportunity to acquire the 35-year-old passer’s successor. Regardless of how Atlanta proceeds with the No. 4 overall pick, Ryan’s lucrative contract is expected to remain on the franchise’s 2021 payroll.
Despite Jones’ 10th NFL season halting his historic run of production, thanks to hamstring trouble that kept him out for much of the 2020 slate, the future Hall of Famer would obviously generate trade interest. But the Falcons gave him a market-topping extension in 2019. His 2021 base salary ($15.3MM) is fully guaranteed. The Falcons would be tagged with a greater dead-money sum — in excess of $40MM — if they were to move Ryan. Another Ryan restructure could be on tap; the 13-year veteran’s 2021 cap figure sits at $40.9MM.
With a salary cap drop expected in March, the Falcons are already projected to be well over the estimated ceiling. GM Terry Fontenot‘s new team is not in the kind of cap hell the Saints are, but the Falcons are one of five other teams — as of Groundhog Day — who project to be over the cap by more than $30MM. While the cap may not drop to the agreed-upon $175MM floor, the Falcons will certainly help themselves by not trading Ryan and Jones this year.
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