After being one of the runners-up to land Deshaun Watson, the Falcons face an important decision with their current quarterback. The team has “fielded trade calls” on Matt Ryan in the past few days, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).
Today represents an important, if artificial, deadline, as Ryan has a $7.5MM roster bonus due at 4:00 PM Eastern time. The Falcons pushed that date back last week, as a means of making a trade for Watson more viable. With the Georgia native off to Cleveland, however, they now need to commit to their course of action with the franchise signal-caller.
Rapoport’s colleague Tom Pelissero adds that the process of trade discussions pre-date Atlanta’s inclusion in the pursuit of Watson, and has continued throughout the weekend. As he notes, the largest hurdle to be cleared for any move to be possible is Ryan’s contract situation. The 36-year-old has two years remaining on his deal, with $51.7MM owed over that time, and cap hits of over $40MM in both seasons. The team was thought to have restructured his pact last week, but they have yet to officially process that move.
The Colts have been named as a potential landing spot for the former league MVP. As one of the only remaining teams with a vacant starting spot at the position – not to mention one willing to bring in accomplished but ageing veterans such as Philip Rivers – a trade to Indianapolis wouldn’t come as a surprise. On the other hand, they are said to be the preferred destination of Baker Mayfield, whose team has more reason to execute a trade. Between that, and the fact Mayfield is ten years younger and his contract is far less expensive, Ryan won’t be the only consideration for Indianapolis.
Ultimately, this situation could be resolved in the coming hours. If a deal doesn’t happen, it would point to Ryan remaining with the only franchise he’s been with. If it does, another QB domino will have fallen, and the Falcons’ succession plan at the position will begin.