NFL News & Analysis

Atlanta Falcons trade QB Matt Ryan to Indianapolis Colts

Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) before the NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Ryan is headed to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to trade Ryan to the Colts for a 2022 third-round pick, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported Monday.

The move comes shortly after Atlanta made a run at acquiring former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

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Ryan was willing to push back the date he earned a $7.5 million roster bonus to Monday, March 21 at 4 p.m. ET, facilitating a potential trade elsewhere by ensuring Atlanta wasn’t on the hook for that money. 

The Colts have been in need of a long-term solution at quarterback since Andrew Luck retired following the 2018 NFL season. In the three years since then, Indianapolis has spent over $83 million on the likes of Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz.

Indianapolis' most successful season since 2018 came in 2020 when Rivers took the Buffalo Bills down to the wire in the AFC wild-card round but ultimately came up short.

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The trade for Ryan represents a similar approach by the Colts' front office, with the team bringing in a veteran to finish out his storied career behind a stout offensive line that can mitigate his lack of mobility.

The Colts will take on a two-year, $53.912 million contract for Ryan, though an extension may be a part of the trade when details are finalized.

While Ryan’s 75.8 grade in 2021 was his lowest since his second season in the league, he’s still earned the fifth-most wins above replacement (PFF WAR) in the NFL over the last five seasons. 

Matt Ryan: PFF grades and rank since 2015 (postseason included)
Season Snaps PFF Grade PFF Grade Rank
2021 1,020 75.8 16 of 38
2020 1,113 83.1 12 of 38
2019 1,065 76.0 16 of 39
2018 1,048 84.3 8 of 39
2017 1,159 88.3 3 of 41
2016 1,211 92.2 2 of 37
2015 1,116 80.9 7 of 40

Click here to view Matt Ryan's career in PFF Premium Stats

The Falcons will now take on an NFL-record $40.525 million dead cap charge in 2022 for Matt Ryan, surpassing former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s $33.8 million dead cap charge for 2021. 

There are more quarterback dominoes yet to fall: The San Francisco 49ers are expected to trade Jimmy Garoppolo at some point, and former Browns starter Baker Mayfield is still looking for a new home.

The Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks are among the NFL’s most QB-needy teams. 

Atlanta owns the No. 8 overall selection in this year’s draft, perhaps putting them in play to be the first team to take a quarterback. With their second-round pick at No. 43, they may also be able to land one of the quarterbacks in the second group, such as Ole Miss' Matt Corral or North Carolina's Sam Howell.

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