When the Atlanta Falcons traded Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts, it felt like a win-win for both sides. The Falcons got an extra draft pick and cleared up their finances, while the Colts felt like they finally got their franchise quarterback.
We are just eight weeks into the NFL season and the Colts have seemingly already given up on Matt Ryan in favor of the young Sam Ehlinger. The Colts have not exactly made themselves look smart with that decision, but we have already discussed that.
What we haven’t discussed is whether or not Matt Ryan is making his way back to the Atlanta Falcons.
Could the Atlanta Falcons bring back Matt Ryan after all the chaos?
Imagine this, the Atlanta Falcons trade Matt Ryan to the Colts for a third-round pick — a pick they used on DeAngelo Malone — and ends up getting benched just seven games into the season, the Colts go on to release Ryan in the subsequent offseason only for the Falcons to pick him back up.
Matt Ryan guides the Falcons to a Super Bowl, throws a go-ahead touchdown to Calvin Ridley who was playing his first season since his year-long suspension, and then DeAngelo Malone seals the team’s first Lombardi trophy with a strip-sack and fumble recovery.
Okay, that is quite the story and it would be quite the moment, as well as being extremely embarrassing for the Colts, but the odds of that happening are <0.0000000001%.
What is likely is that Matt Ryan does end up with a different team following the season’s end. Here are their options to move on from Ryan following this season:
- Pre/Post-June 1 Release: Cap Savings: $17.2 million, Dead Cap: $18 million
- Pre/Post-June 1 Trade: Cap Savings: $29.2 million, Dead Cap: $6 million
As you can see, they won’t have to wait until after June 1st to make a move with Matt Ryan as both figures are the same. You can also see that one of those options is a lot more attractive — but a lot more complicated — than the other.
Their best-case scenario is to trade him, as they will save over $10 million more while also reducing the dead-cap number by $12 million, but will a team be willing to pull off a trade for him? It seems unlikely unless the Colts package a draft pick with him, similar to the Brock Osweiler trade from back in 2017.
His new team, assuming the contract stays the same, would owe him $19 million, which isn’t the problem, the problem is that his cap hit would be $35 million, which is exactly why the Colts won’t keep him past this year unless they believe in him and/or they extend his contract to manipulate the numbers.
The Indianapolis Colts are going to do everything in their power to trade him. And that basically answers the main question of this article, it is highly unlikely that he will end up back on the Atlanta Falcons next year. Terry Fontenot is not going to trade a draft pick for him.
Maybe, just maybe, he would be willing to pull the trigger on a trade if the Colts offer up a draft pick packaged with Matt Ryan, but that would be a long shot.
The only other plausible scenario where Atlanta ends up with Matt Ryan is if Indianapolis ends up pulling the bandaid off by outright cutting him, followed by Ryan being willing to sign a modest deal to go back to his original team.
But there is the other side of the story, Arthur Smith has shown that he wants a mobile quarterback, so when you consider that, Matt Ryan will probably not end up back with his Dirty Birds and rather join his third different team or just retire outright.
So, those Matt Ryan haters can rest easy knowing that the future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback will probably not be back with the team that drafted him.