For the second straight offseason, the Indianapolis Colts have completed a trade involving a quarterback. On Monday, the Colts agreed to terms on a deal with the Atlanta Falcons that sent quarterback Matt Ryan to Indianapolis. The Falcons received a 2022 third round pick after sending their franchise quarterback of 14 seasons to the Colts in the trade. Atlanta will be hit with a hefty sum of dead cap money following the Ryan trade, though the move could help the franchise build a better overall team for the future while they seek out their next signal-caller. Meanwhile, the Colts will try again at the quarterback spot with a proven veteran in Ryan. That said, it’s time to grade the Colts-Falcons Matt Ryan trade.
The Colts deserve credit for parting ways with just one draft pick to acquire the services of Ryan, a former MVP, especially considering that the price to pay for an effective signal-caller has ballooned this offseason. However, there’s a feeling that Indianapolis, who will be taking on Ryan’s two-year, $53.9 million contract, could have gotten more bang for their buck with a younger option, such as Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the Colts are trying to emulate the Philip Rivers formula: surround a veteran quarterback with a strong offensive line, excellent running back and a capable defense- and see what happens. Ryan, 36, threw for his lowest yardage total and fewest touchdowns since the 2017 season, though he had limited weapons around him in Atlanta. There’s no doubt that the Ryan trade keeps the Colts in the mix, though they still fall well short of their respective contenders in the AFC.
There’s no avoiding it. The Falcons whiffed on Deshaun Watson and waved the white flag with the Ryan trade to the Colts. Legal issues aside, the Falcons could have acquired an ascending star and three-time Pro Bowler in Watson but are now facing a reset at the position after shipping away the former MVP in Ryan. Atlanta was right to move on from Ryan, who is on the back end of his career, given that they’re not quite contenders and not quite rebuilding either. However, Ryan’s dead money cap hit is the largest in NFL history, which won’t do the team any favors as they retool. There are still some solid quarterback options in free agency and on the trade market, though it feels like the Falcons are going to look to this year’s draft for their next signal-caller. It will be hard for Falcons fans to reconcile with the fact that they could have had Watson but will now more than likely end up with a quarterback in a draft class touted for its non-quarterback positions.