If you haven’t heard by now, the 2022 NFL offseason’s quarterback craze is well underway. Aaron Rodgers has reportedly committed to the Packers, where he will become the highest-paid player in the league. Now, the dominos are beginning to fall. News just broke that Seattle is dealing Russell Wilson to Denver, and the compensation is… well, shocking, to say the least.
There are still several quarterback-needy teams around the league searching for a signal caller. The Commanders, Steelers, and Colts are all in the market for a veteran quarterback, and perhaps the Seahawks and others could be as well, so should the Falcons be more open to potentially dealing Ryan?
In short, yes.
A week ago, Arthur Smith suggested the Falcons would entertain trade offers for Ryan, stating they like where the team stands but won’t back themselves in a corner. However, days later, NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported teams interested in trading for Ryan are receiving the impression that he will not be traded this offseason.
Those reports could be stale, though, in light of the recent trade news. With so much compensation being thrown around for veteran quarterbacks, the Falcons should absolutely take advantage of the market and sell high on Ryan.
I’ll first address what everyone will say: Ryan’s record-setting dead cap is a roadblock to a deal getting done. By trading Ryan before June 1, the Falcons will incur a $40.5 million dead cap hit, which would be the highest in league history. If they can convince a team to wait until after June 1, Atlanta would only be on the hook for $24.9 million in dead money. Though, the second scenario seems improbable.
Sure, those figures are scary and would undoubtedly handicap the Falcons in 2022. However, I’d argue the Falcons are nowhere close to winning the division, let alone a Super Bowl. If you aren’t competing for a Super Bowl with an expensive and aging quarterback, why prolong the inevitable search for the future at the position?
The Falcons need to look in the mirror and decide what they want their next two years to look like: stick with Matt Ryan and lose while building the roster with one hand tied behind their backs or trade him for a boatload of draft picks and go full steam ahead at a rebuild.
Next year’s quarterback class is littered with franchise-caliber prospects, but the Falcons won’t be in a position to grab one without trading away their entire future. They’ll win 6-9 games (nice!) in 2022 and be just out of reach of Bryce Young or CJ Stroud. Or… they can accept their fate, trade Ryan, suck in 2022 and be in a realistic position to land one of these tantalizing prospects.
Don’t be delusional; the Falcons aren’t winning shit in 2022. Matt Ryan isn’t the problem, but he’s certainly not the solution either. In fact, I don’t think Tom Brady would be able to lead this roster to the playoffs — it’s that bad. Ryan’s got a lot of good football left in him, but he’ll wither away in Atlanta as they attempt to build up the roster around him.
At 36, Ryan remains a viable quarterback, and there would be a robust market if the Falcons choose to take calls on him, especially considering this recent mercenary approach from teams regarding the quarterback position. Not only is Ryan’s play level up to par, but the financials make him attractive to interested teams. His base salary is just $16.25 million in 2022 and $20.25 million in 2023. That is outstanding value, even at his age.
More than likely, the Falcons won’t end up trading Ryan, but I don’t see the point in building towards the future with depreciating assets on the roster like Ryan. Take advantage of this steaming hot market while Ryan’s value is at the highest. The Falcons will not win with him in 2022 or even 2023 without hitting on 90% of their draft picks and free agent signings.