Matt Ryan

Falcons’ Matt Ryan: Lots Of “Good Football” Left

Father Time is undefeated, but Matt Ryan is undeterred. On Tuesday, the Falcons’ quarterback told reporters that he has no plans of slowing down or calling it quits as he enters his age-36 season.

[RELATED: Falcons “Have To Listen” To Julio Jones Offers]

If you play well long enough you know these things come up,” Ryan said of the speculation regarding his job security (Twitter link via Tori McElhaney of The Athletic). “I still believe I am playing really well and have a lot of good football in front of me.”

Many believed that the Falcons would select Ryan’s eventual replacement at No. 4 overall. Instead, they invested in Ryan’s offense by drafting Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. For Ryan, it was a clear vote of confidence. Now, the veteran will wait to see if longtime partner Julio Jones will remain by his side.

He’s probably impacted my career more significantly than any other player,” said the QB (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein).

Pitts, Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst would still stand as capable targets, but no one has a track record to match Jones. Since 2011, Jones has racked up seven Pro Bowl nods with 848 catches, 12,896 yards, and 60 career touchdowns.

While Ryan can’t imagine the Falcons without Jones, new GM Terry Fontenot says they “have to listen” to offers for him.

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Falcons GM, HC Split On Drafting QB?

Earlier this morning, we heard that the Falcons were open to moving down from the fourth overall pick. Now, we have some more details on what’s happening inside the building.

Atlanta’s new GM Terry Fontenot apparently favors drafting a quarterback, while new head coach Arthur Smith does not, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported recently, via Evan Birchfield of The Falcoholic. “What I’m hearing is that [Terry] Fontenot is more focused on quarterback, and Arthur Smith believes that Matt Ryan does have two or more years left,” Mortensen said.

While that big split between a GM and head coach in their first year together might not be ideal, it doesn’t sound like the situation has turned toxic or anything. The fact that Atlanta is open to moving the pick would seem to indicate that Smith’s view might be winning out.

He has no real medical history, he hasn’t missed many games in his career and there hasn’t been a big drop off in his play,” Mortensen said of Smith’s view of Ryan. Interestingly, Mortensen also had some info on who the Falcons might pick if Fontenot gets his way.

One thing I do hear though is that if they do go quarterback at No. 4, then Trey Lance is probably the guy,” he said. It sounds like there’s a real possibility that Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Lance go 1-4. Ryan, 36 next month, is signed through the 2023 season.

 Running it back for at least one more cycle with Ryan and Julio Jones, now 32, still seems like the most likely scenario. This will be one of the most interesting dynamics to watch in the lead up to the draft.

Falcons Restructure Matt Ryan’s Deal

Atlanta has gotten under the salary cap just ahead of the start of the new league year. They’ve done it in part by restructuring the contract of Matt Ryan, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes. Zach Klein of WSB was first to tweet the news.

Atlanta converted $21MM of Ryan’s $23MM base salary for this upcoming season and turned it into a signing bonus to spread it out over the duration of his contract, which runs through 2023. The move knocked Ryan’s 2021 cap number down about $14MM, Rothstein writes.

As he points out, this isn’t breaking any new ground, as this is the third time Ryan’s contract has been restructured. The move allows the Falcons to get under the cap for now, and also could be indicative that they have Ryan in their long-term plans.

There had been some speculation the team would look to move on before too long, but this restructure makes it a lot harder to get out of his contract. He’ll now have a dead cap number north of $40MM in 2022. Ryan will turn 36 in May, and new coach Arthur Smith has insisted he isn’t planning on blowing things up. This move would be consistent with that.

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Arthur Blank: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones Will Be With Falcons In 2021

Earlier this week, we heard the Falcons are not taking calls on Matt Ryan and that they expect his top weapon to remain in the fold as well. Falcons owner Arthur Blank confirmed that Ryan and Julio Jones will be part of Arthur Smith‘s first Falcons roster.

Well, I’d be shocked, completely shocked if he was not, and it really has nothing to do necessarily with his contract,” Blank said of the prospect Ryan would not be a Falcon in 2021, via Andrew Siciliano of NFL.com. “… He’s performed beautifully, was MVP of the league one year. So Matt can still play at a very high level and we expect him to be a Falcon next year, fully.

We expect Julio to be a Falcon, to be playing next year at a very high level as well. God-willing, taking care of his body, his hamstring will be healed up. He’ll be able to play in more games than he played last year. So they’ll both be with us.”

The QB trade market recently produced a blockbuster, with Matthew Stafford going to the Rams in exchange for Jared Goff and three draft picks. Ryan resides in a similar position to Stafford. He has been with his team for over a decade (13 years) but has seen it decline to point it holds a high draft pick. Like the Lions, the Falcons also hired a new head coach and GM. However, Ryan both signed for more money on his most recent extension — in 2018 — and restructured his deal to further pile up money on Atlanta’s cap going forward. A Ryan trade would cost the Falcons more than $40MM. Three seasons remain on Jones’ $22MM-per-year deal.

Blank, however, acknowledged the prospect of a succession plan. The Falcons hold the No. 4 overall pick — their highest draft slot since they used 2008’s No. 3 overall choice to select Ryan — and will see their longtime starter turn 36 this year. The owner referencing the Chiefs’ successful (but rarely utilized) QB developmental model perhaps points to the Falcons being in the market for a passer at No. 4.

In any business, including professional football or any sports business, you do have to prepare for succession planning, and that’s what separates a lot of great organizations that are great over a longer period of time because they think through, how do they continue to stay at the level they’re at,” Blank said.

A good example is what Kansas City has done when they drafted Patrick Mahomes, who came out of a very high-scoring offense in college but needed to go through a professional transition. He played behind Alex Smith for a year, a great competitor, a great quarterback, a great mentor, and he learned a lot, so he’s producing now at a much higher level and he’s had a healthy transition. So I think you have to think about long-term while you think about winning today. That’s what good coaches and what good general managers do.”

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Falcons Not Expected To Trade Matt Ryan, Julio Jones

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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Trade Rumors: Giants, Ryan, Fuller

After dealing Markus Golden to the Cardinals, it appears the 1-6 Giants have officially declared themselves sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Though GM Dave Gettleman may be reluctant to trade away veteran talent that could theoretically help Big Blue win a few games — and perhaps save Gettleman’s job in the process — players like Evan Engram, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate could be available, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes (though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the club is unlikely to deal Engram).

2017 second-round DT Dalvin Tomlinson could also be on the move, per Dunleavy. Tomlinson is playing out the last year of his rookie contract, and while he has expressed interest in staying with the Giants long-term, there has been little progress in contract talks.

As we creep closer to the November 3 deadline, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league:

Contract Details: Falcons, Ryan, Eagles, Slay

Earlier this week, the Falcons restructured deals with Matt Ryan and others to carve out a bit of extra breathing room. Today, we got some additional details on that adjustment, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Here’s the breakdown: Ryan’s base pay for 2020 will go down from $8MM to $1.05MM. Meanwhile, tackle Jake Matthews will see his base number trimmed from $10.55MM to $3.55MM. In both cases, the difference was converted to a signing bonus. In effect, it doesn’t change much for either player, but it does allow the Falcons to kick the can down the road and spend more this year.

Here are more deetz from around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter:

Matt Ryan, Jake Matthews Restructure Deals

Up against the cap this offseason, the Falcons made three lower-level signings Sunday. They have also restructured a few contracts.

The Falcons restructured the deals of Matt Ryan, Jake Matthews and Allen Bailey, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. This marks an interesting move for Ryan, who restructured his deal at the end of last season. He was already set to have cap figures north of $39MM in 2021 and 2022.

Ryan was to comprise $24.1MM of Atlanta’s 2020 cap, while Matthews was to account for $16MM of it. Bailey’s two-year deal included a $5.9MM 2020 cap number.

The Falcons and Ryan agreed on a five-year, $150MM extension in May 2018. He is under contract through 2023. Prior to the revised figures from this latest restructure, Ryan’s 2023 cap number sat at $34MM. Signed to a five-year extension worth $72.5MM in July 2018, Matthews is also under contract through 2023. His next four cap numbers are north of $16MM, so it should be expected some of them will rise as a result of this adjustment.

Atlanta added Laquon Treadwell and offensive lineman Justin McCray on Sunday and also re-signed Blidi Wreh-Wilson. They added Todd Gurley on Friday and authorized a $16MM-AAV deal for Dante Fowler. Considering the Falcons’ minimal cap room, these Ryan and Matthews restructures were surely necessary to accommodate the Fowler pact. The Falcons also cut Desmond Trufant and Devonta Freeman to clear space.

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Injury Notes: Ryan, Darnold, Dickson, Doctson

It doesn’t sound like Matt Ryan will be out for long. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the veteran quarterback will start when the team returns from a bye in Week 10 (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). The coach also said Ryan would likely play this weekend if the team had a game.

Ryan suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss Sunday’s game, the first time he’s been forced out of the lineup in a decade. The quarterback missed a pair of games during the 2009 season due to turf toe.

With the Falcons sitting at 1-7, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Falcons were a bit cautious with Ryan. On the flip side, the organization gave the quarterback more than $100MM in guaranteed money last year, and the veteran has still been plenty productive this season.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • We heard earlier today that Sam Darnold was set to play through his thumb injury, and the Jets quarterback elaborated on the issue. Darnold referred to the ailment as a “pain-tolerance thing … I should be fine,” according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Coach Adam Gase previously said that this is an injury Darnold will have to play through for the rest of the season.
  • Seahawks tight end Ed Dickson will practice this week, coach Pete Carroll told reporters (via ESPN’s Brady Henderson). Carroll added that Dickson is unlikely to make his season debut on Sunday The veteran has missed the first half of the season as he’s recovered from a knee injury. With Will Dissly out for the season, the offense will surely welcome back the tight end.
  • Vikings wideout Josh Doctson is set to return from injury this week, he told Darren Wolfson of 5Eyewitness News in Minny (via Twitter). The Redskins released the former first-rounder back in September, and he caught on with the Vikings soon after. The 26-year-old didn’t get into a game with Minnesota before landing on the IR with a hamstring injury.
  • Ravens cornerback Tavon Young underwent neck surgery, according to coach John Harbaugh (via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic on Twitter). Young suffered a neck injury prior to the season and was placed on IR. The 25-year-old signed a three-year, $25.8MM extension with Baltimore back in February. Meanwhile, rookie cornerback Iman Marshall returned to practice on Monday.

Matt Ryan To Miss Falcons’ Week 8 Game

The ankle injury Matt Ryan suffered last week will keep him out against the Seahawks, the Falcons announced. Veteran Matt Schaub will start in Ryan’s place, with the recently promoted Danny Etling working as the Falcons’ No. 2 quarterback.

This will mark Ryan’s first absence in 10 years. The Falcons quarterback worked through a limited practice Friday, but the 1-6 team will keep him out of its Week 8 matchup. Schaub has not started a game since the 2015 season, when he saw action as a Raven following Joe Flacco‘s season-ending injury.

Ryan’s injury is the latest chapter in a nightmare Falcons season. Despite the team possessing a veteran-laden roster and moving to reach top-market extensions with Julio Jones, Deion Jones and Grady Jarrett, the Falcons are off to their worst start in 12 years. Atlanta dealt one of Ryan’s wideouts, Mohamed Sanu, this week. Another loss could prompt more deals for the struggling team in advance of Tuesday’s deadline.

Ryan’s 15 touchdown passes are tied for the league lead. He’s added 2,170 passing yards — 7.6 per attempt. Schaub, the longtime Texans starter, has served as Ryan’s backup since 2016. The 38-year-old passer has attempted just 16 passes as a Falcon, with Ryan being one of the league’s most reliable starters. Schaub has two Pro Bowls to his credit, but the most recent honor came in 2012.

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