The Indianapolis Colts have released Matt Ryan, making the quarterback a free agent for the first time in his career. Ryan said earlier this year that he has no plans to retire, so it might only be a matter of time before he signs with a new team.
Ryan’s potential destinations shouldn’t include teams that are looking for a new starting quarterback. After a disastrous year with the Colts, Ryan’s days as a full-time starter appear to be numbered. The Colts benched Ryan on multiple occasions in the 2022 season. In 12 games, Ryan had an 83.9 passer rating. His 18 turnovers were tied for the second-most among quarterbacks. Still, the 37-year-old can help a team that needs depth and experience at the NFL’s most important position.
After being released by the Colts, these teams are the best free-agent destinations for Matt Ryan.
Now that the Packers are ready to move on from Aaron Rodgers, they have one of the worst quarterback rooms in football. Jordan Love and Danny Etling are the only other Packers’ quarterbacks under contract for the 2023 season. Love has one career start, and Etling hasn’t attempted a single pass since being picked in the last round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Signing Matt Ryan would be a massive upgrade for the Packers, which are in big trouble if Etling ever has to see the field.
The Packers will almost certainly give Love the keys to the offense once Rodgers is gone. Green Bay has little choice but to see what Love can do after they traded up to pick him three years ago. But no one has any idea if Love can be a successful NFL starter, let alone the top quarterback for a winning team. There’s a chance that Love will be one of the worst starters in the league. If that’s the case and Ryan is his backup, the Packers could eventually turn to the former Colts quarterback.
Even if Love finds success next year, it would make sense for Green Bay to have a veteran presence in the quarterback room. The dynamic between Love and Ryan could be much different than it was between Love and Rodgers, who was well aware that his backup would one day be his replacement.
The Bills can’t feel too comfortable with Matt Barkley being the backup quarterback to Josh Allen. Buffalo proved that in 2021 when it replaced Barkley with Mitch Trubisky in free agency. Case Keenum backed up Allen in 2022, but he has since signed with the Houston Texans. Ryan is only two years removed from being an average starter with the Atlanta Falcons. Barkley is just 2-5 in his career as an NFL starter.
Keenum attempted seven passes for the Bills last season. Buffalo was fortunate that it wasn’t much more. Allen played through a UCL injury that he suffered in the middle of the season, though it seemed to affect his production. If the Bills have Ryan on the active roster instead of Barkley, they are much more likely to win a game that Allen might not be able to finish.
The Bills have won three straight AFC East titles. Despite the improvements that the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have made, Buffalo is still the team to beat in the division. Joining the Bills would give Ryan a real chance of playing for a championship contender. With his career winding down, Ryan might only have one more shot to win a Super Bowl ring.
There’s no better way for Ryan to improve his odds of finally winning a title than by joining the defending champions. The Chiefs are the favorites to win Super Bowl 58. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid make Kansas City perennial Super Bowl contenders. The duo has helped the Chiefs host five straight AFC Championship Games. The Chiefs have made three Super Bowl appearances and won two titles during that span.
The Chiefs are in need of a backup quarterback, following the retirement of Chad Henne. Given the way that Mahomes plays, Kansas City can’t afford to enter the 2023 season with an inexperienced No. 2 quarterback. Henne was forced to finish the second quarter of the Chiefs’ last divisional playoff game because Mahomes suffered a sprained ankle. Two years ago, Henne finished a playoff game when Mahomes was put in concussion protocol.
Ryan struggled as the Colts’ starter, but he could look much better if he’s asked to play a few series in Reid’s offense. A failed starter with the Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars, Henne had a 96.6 passer rating when he took the field in the regular season for the Chiefs.