Colts complete trade for Falcons QB Matt Ryan

Field Level Media

March 21, 2022 at 8:30 pm.

The Atlanta Falcons traded longtime quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts on Monday in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2022 draft.

Ryan becomes the fifth starter in five seasons for the Colts, who traded Carson Wentz to Washington only a year after acquiring him from the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Falcons are absorbing an NFL-record $40.5 million dead cap charge.

Ryan was due a $7.5 million bonus, but the sides agreed to delay that payment last week to Monday at 4 p.m. ET as an artificial deadline to get a deal done.

Ryan has two years remaining on his existing contract worth $51.8 million, but multiple reports indicated the 36-year-old could sign a new pact with the Colts.

The Falcons were reportedly a finalist in the Deshaun Watson bidding along with the New Orleans Saints and Browns before he chose Cleveland.

Atlanta got to work immediately on filling the depth chart, signing Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal. Mariota reunites with head coach Arthur Smith, who was offensive coordinator of the Titans prior to taking over in Atlanta. The Titans drafted Mariota No. 2 overall in 2015.

As word of the deal became public, the Falcons also had a full contingent of representatives at the Pittsburgh pro day to continue evaluating quarterback Kenny Pickett. The team reportedly met with Pickett and Atlanta’s show of personnel evaluating muscle at the workout included general manager Terry Fontenot, head coach Arthur Smith and offensive coordinator Dave Ragone.

Pickett, vying to be the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft along with Liberty’s Malik Willis, said at the NFL Scouting Combine he met with the Falcons during that event.

The Seattle Seahawks were also interested in Ryan, per reports.

The 2016 NFL MVP, Ryan won 120 games with the Falcons and owns nearly every franchise passing record. He guided Atlanta to the playoffs six times, including the Super Bowl LI loss to the New England Patriots.

Ryan turns 37 in May. His current contract doesn’t reflect pay increases given to starting quarterbacks, as the market value continues to explode behind new contracts for Aaron Rodgers (three years, $150 million) and Watson (five years, $230 million). ESPN reported Ryan didn’t ask the Falcons for a new deal, but signed off on the trade because of his belief the Colts have a roster to win now, per ESPN.

Ryan had 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2021 as the Falcons competed into December despite a roster that shouted “rebuild.”

The No. 3 overall pick in 2008, Ryan has 59,735 career passing yards and 367 TD passes. The yardage ranks eighth in NFL history and the touchdowns are ninth.