Matt Ryan trade buzz picked up in the days following Deshaun Watson‘s decision to waive his no-trade for the Browns, but the Falcons had begun discussing its 14-year quarterback with teams before Watson committed.
As the Falcons pursued Watson, they shopped Ryan, Zak Keefer of The Athletic reports (subscription required). This came as most among the Falcons assumed the embattled Texans quarterback “was theirs.” Watson is from Georgia and spent time as a Falcons ball boy as a child.
This gibes with what came out in March, when a report indicated Watson was speaking with free agents — Jarvis Landry and Leonard Fournette among them — about joining him in Atlanta. Jadeveon Clowney later said he would probably have signed with the Falcons had Watson chosen to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt to Atlanta. The Falcons were also competing with the Panthers and Saints for Watson, but on the night before the trade went down, the Falcons had expected to land the Pro Bowl quarterback. The Browns’ fully guaranteed $230MM contract — a price point that pushed the Falcons and Panthers to stand down — changed everything.
Prior to Watson’s Cleveland choice, Falcons assistant GM Ryan Smith contacted Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds regarding Ryan interest, Keefer adds, and Colts brass then watched every Ryan game from 2020-21 as they determined if he would be a fit. The Colts had agreed to trade Carson Wentz to the Commanders on March 9, leaving them without a clear-cut option for a stretch. They had also held discussions with Jameis Winston, with Baker Mayfield showing interest in Indianapolis. The Falcons and Colts agreed to terms on a Ryan trade — which sent a third-round pick to Atlanta for the former MVP — March 21.
Ryan, now 37, did his own homework on the Colts, calling Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers to gain intel on, respectively, the organization and Frank Reich‘s offense. Other teams were also interested in Ryan, per Keefer, but the Falcons wanted to send their longtime franchise cornerstone to a destination he preferred.
Despite Watson choosing the Browns as the Colts shopped Ryan, the Falcons stayed the course on a trade by continuing negotiations. On the Colts’ end, Jim Irsay, who had a few negative things to say about Wentz this offseason, instructed GM Chris Ballard to complete the trade. Shortly after the Falcons sent Ryan to the Colts, they signed ex-Arthur Smith Titans charge Marcus Mariota. While third-round pick Desmond Ridder should be expected to make starts for the rebuilding team this season, Mariota will begin the campaign as Atlanta’s starter.
The Colts, whose issues with Wentz began during the 2021 offseason, have been pleased with Ryan thus far. They are eyeing at least a two-year partnership. This would stop a revolving QB door for the Colts, who are about to the join the Broncos and Commanders in starting a different Week 1 QB in each of the past six seasons. Ryan’s contract, which handed the Falcons an NFL-record $40MM dead-money charge, has since been restructured. It checks in with $18.7MM (2022) and $35.2MM (’23) cap numbers.
24 comments on “Falcons Shopped Matt Ryan Before Deshaun Watson Decision; Team Expected To Land Watson”
Everyone complains when players want a new deal. Remember players get cut & traded non-stop. “Face of the franchise’. Thanks & goodbye.
I think the success of the Braves and Bulldogs accelerated the pace of the Falcons rebuild to some extent. It’s hard to sell those NFL fans on keeping the status quo when they see other Atlanta based teams winning championships.
UGA is the biggest sports organization in metro Atlanta by far. The Atlanta Braves and UGA have nothing to do with the NFL at all. NOTHING!
Is Athens considered part of metro Atlanta? Isn’t it like two hours away?
Is it Matt’s fault the current and last GM can’t draft? Arthur tries his best to come across as sympathetic owner and was gladly to dismiss Watson’s suits? Cellar is where the Falcons belong.
The Falcons have been dog shot since 28-3
Matt Ryan is one of the highest paid players in league history, not some 6th string RB. It’s hard for a team to build around a 37 year old QB with 2 years left and a $40+ mil cap hit.
If these QBs were smarter, they would take less money (highly unlikely) with higher % guarantees (more likely) or add more void years (Taysom Hill) to the end of their contracts to lower their cap hit so their team can improve.
Do you tell your employer that you shouldn’t get the standard annual raise because it might affect their bottom line? Or pass on bonuses?
I hate Cleveland’s decision to acquire Watson from all sorts of angles, from messaging to nuking the QB contract market, but at least they were adding him to an otherwise competitive roster, even with all the lost draft picks. Imagine Atlanta adding Watson to a team that had that defense, that offensive line, and that receiver group–minus London and a bunch more picks. Just going so far out of your way for a PR nightmare and a recreation of the worst Watson Texans teams.
How ironic, little Deshaun was once a ball boy, now he just hires masseuses to handle them.
Watson is a piece of Human Garbage
Everybody in the Falcon’s organization, including Mr. Blank, should be thanking God (or the Browns lol) before they go to bed every night that they avoided this dude. It was time to move on from Matty Ice, but holy hell was this not the direction to go.
Especially after they dealt with the Mike Vick stuff years ago you’d think Blank would stay miles away from Watson.
Remember when Mike Vick let it slip that Aruthur Blank hosted him to Super Bowl 28?
The difference was that Vick was already on the roster but your point is well taken.
Wondering how many sponsors dropped Watson from commercials. How many shoes endorsements he lost? How much money he paid out to his attorneys? How much in settlements has he paid out? Hope D.Watson is broke from this mess! Blacken the EYES of the NFL. Sounds like the NFL and NFL Players Union doesn’t care about Sexual Assault to women in general. Regardless non violent or violent sexual assault. The fans don’t want D.Watson at their stadiums either.
Do you understand why Buffalo released “punt god” Matt Araiza? He was implicated in a gang rape at San Diego State University and named as such in a lawsuit.
Think like a grown-up, not like a “dumb jock” sports fan.
As a NFL fan I’m just glad we don’t have to see him for the first 11 games of the season. I would hope he was ban life time from sports but this is something that makes people money so they don’t care. Money is the key here. They do drugs, drink/drugs and drive, sexual assault/ harassment, pay for sex etc. they all need to be banned…
Are we supposed to feel badly for the Falcons? They were the ones who used up their entire salary cap on Ryan’s 2018 contract extension – thus leading to their own demise (along with poor head coach/GM decisions).
Woo! They dodged a very creepy bullet!
Dodged it? They were all in on this scumbag knowing everything he was acculturation, they were merely outbid.
Luckily for them, they were outbid. They aren’t classy, just fortunate!
Pretty glad the team I cheer for didn’t end up with Watson. Always gonna miss Matty Ice, pure class.