Leaving The Nest
By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Is there proper etiquette to trade the best player in a franchise’s history?
There’s no written rule for something like that but I’m sure the Atlanta Falcons handled that poorly. Matt Ryan has been the starting quarterback since 2008.
Last week Atlanta was one of four finalists trying to trade for Deshaun Watson. Watson ended up being traded to Cleveland and that led to this trade. Ryan, a four-time Pro Bowler was traded to Indianapolis for a third-round pick.
“This was a difficult decision, but it was made easier by Matt’s professionalism and understanding throughout,” Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said in a statement released by the team. “Our goal in every decision is to improve our organization for the long term. We believe today’s agreement is the best long-term decision, not only for our organization, but also the best for Matt.”
The team will take a substantial $40.5 million salary cap hit in dead money to move on from Ryan and his contract.
The Colts, who are not making any changes in the contract, will have Ryan for two years at $24.7 million in 2022 and $28.2 million in 2023.
Dead money counts against the salary cap even though the player is no longer with a team. All of the bonus money paid to Ryan accelerates into this year’s salary cap for the Falcons, who were already at $20 million in dead money mostly from the Julio Jones and Dante Fowler contracts.
“This business is not without its difficult decisions, and while this is one of the most difficult decisions we have faced as a club, we feel it is in the best long-term interests of both the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said a statement released by the team. “On behalf of the entire Falcons organization, I wish him success as he continues his career and know that he will bring the same dedication and professionalism to his next club.”
I think this was the best-case scenario for Ryan. The Colts have a good offensive line, the leading rusher from last season (Jonathan Taylor) and a top 10 defense. He will lead the Colts to the playoffs next season.
His replacement was signed less than two hours after the team announced the trade. Marcus Mariota signed a two-year contract.
Mariota, 28, was originally selected by the Titans in the first round (second overall) of the 2015 NFL draft from Oregon. He completed 1,128 of 1,795 attempts (62.8%) for 13,437 yards, 77 touchdowns and 45 interceptions for an 89.5 passer rating in 74 games (61 starts) for the Titans and Raiders.
He has also rushed for 1,574 yards on 264 attempts (6.0 avg.) and 13 touchdowns. He has been the backup with the Raiders the past two seasons after his final season with the Titans in 2019.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was tight ends coach and offensive coordinator with the Titans when Mariota was in Tennessee.
Atlanta is in full rebuild mode. The question now is will they draft a quarterback with the No. 8 pick in this year’s draft or will they wait until next year?
This year’s quarterback class is considered weak so I believe the goal is to tank this season, so they get a high draft pick in 2023.