The NFL trade machine is well-oiled and firing on all cylinders. Like many in recent years, this offseason should be filled with quarterbacks swapping teams. The Steelers, Browns, Broncos, Vikings, Seahawks, Packers, Dolphins, and potentially the Falcons could all have new faces under center in 2022. This year’s quarterback carousel could be more entertaining than any previous one, matching the level of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady‘s respective offseason signings.
So many top-tier quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, etc. — might be on the move that, naturally, there will be mass speculation from all facets of the media. Steven Ruiz of The Ringer did a piece — the first of many — on those who could change teams this offseason and where they might end up.
— The Ringer (@ringer) January 6, 2022
Given the general dysfunction that’s surrounded the Falcons since they blew a 28-3 lead in the second half of Super Bowl LI, it’s been easy to overlook Ryan’s high level of play. The numbers don’t look great on their own this season, but if you turn on Ryan’s film and squint hard enough, he still looks like the quarterback who was deservedly named MVP in 2016 … just with a few miles per hour shaved off his fastball. What I’m saying is that Ryan can still play, and any team that believes it’s a quarterback away from being a contender should give Atlanta a call this offseason.
The financial hurdle will be tough to clear for any contending team, as Ryan’s cap number for 2022 stands at $48.6 million. But the Falcons might be willing to pay a chunk of that just to get a fresh start financially, and Ryan may be willing to restructure the deal for the opportunity to chase a ring.
Given Ryan’s well-rounded skill set, finding a good fit shouldn’t be too hard. He could operate in any passing scheme and would open up the playbook for coaching staffs that’ve had to provide schematic training wheels for limited quarterbacks. He could be what Matthew Stafford was for Sean McVay this past offseason. If Aaron Rodgers sticks in Green Bay and Wilson stays in Seattle, Ryan will move to the top of the list for QB-needy teams looking to win right away.
Best fit for 2022: The Falcons should keep him. But if they don’t, the Steelers should do whatever it takes.
The Steelers and Broncos make a lot of sense for Matt Ryan because of the pedigree of their rosters. Pittsburgh could do much worse than Ryan, but one point I’d argue against is Terry Fontenot potentially being willing to eat some of his contract.
Fontenot traded Julio Jones last spring, which we later found out was a forced decision, with the primary goal of finding a suitor willing to absorb the entirety of Jones’s contract. I feel confident that any trade — Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett, or Ryan — will involve a partner committed to taking on the full cap figure.