Looking to go different directions in the 2022 offseason, the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan parted ways after the former Boston College quarterback spent 14 years in the ATL. After losing the Super Bowl in 2016 and a Divisional Round exit in 2017, the Ryan-led Falcons never found their way back to the postseason.
So why did Matt Ryan ask to be traded, and where did he end up going? Here’s a deeper look at the trade between the Falcons and Indianapolis Colts.
Matt Ryan Trade Details
At first glance, this trade seems light, especially with a franchise quarterback as the centerpiece of the agreement. However, given what else had happened in the QB market during the 2022 offseason (more on that in a bit), the Colts trading a 2022 third-round pick to the Falcons for Ryan felt more than appropriate.
Unfortunately, Ryan was not in Atlanta’s long-term plans, and getting as much value for the quarterback as possible became a priority. But why would Indianapolis be interested in an aging Ryan — a quarterback who has regressed over the past few seasons?
The Colts barely missed the playoffs in 2021, attempting to ride RB Jonathan Taylor to a playoff berth after a 1-4 start. While Taylor earned a First-Team All-Pro nod for his performance, the Colts were forced to ask QB Carson Wentz to put the team on his shoulders, but he could not deliver.
Indianapolis’ front office made it very clear Wentz would not return, and they traded him to the Commanders for a 2022 second-round pick (42), a 2022 third-round pick (73), and a conditional 2023 third-round pick.
Now, forced to find their fourth QB in as many years, Indianapolis turned its attention to the situation in Atlanta. After Ryan told the Falcons he wanted to be traded, the veteran QB hand-picked the Colts due to his belief that them being a Super Bowl-ready roster.
Given how close they came the season prior, this made sense. The Falcons used the 2022 third-round selection they received to take Western Kentucky LB DeAngelo Malone with the 82nd overall pick.
Why Did the Falcons Trade Matt Ryan?
So why did the Falcons and Ryan part ways after a 14-year career? Many had assumed that due to Ryan’s deep ties to the community in Atlanta, he would be apt to finish his career with the franchise that drafted him. However, the Falcons decided to pull the trigger on his replacement, and the sweepstakes they attempted to win had some consequences.
The most talked about offseason story revolved around the trade for Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson. While on the field, the move would be a no-brainer. At the time, Watson was under investigation for over 20 civil lawsuits regarding sexual misconduct. Teams who involved themselves in discussions with the Texans for the QB saw a divisive set of reactions and responses from fans, the media, and players.
Atlanta was one of the teams that entered those discussions. The Falcons initiated the talks without consulting with the franchise QB, and while Ryan has said he understands the NFL is a business, it was a bit of a gut punch.
Given all that he had done for the community and his stellar image, Atlanta being involved in trade negotiations for Watson while embroiled in a legal battle was a jarring switch in culture for the face of the Falcons.
Because Atlanta was intent on moving on, Ryan made the tough decision and asked the Falcons for a trade. His goal was to find a team who would give him the best chance at winning his first Super Bowl. So far, the returns in Indianapolis haven’t been as expected with the Colts sitting at 1-2-1.
The good news is that Ryan is starting to click with his receivers and develop some chemistry within the offense. The bad news is Indianapolis will be without Taylor for at least Week 5. Once the Colts’ bell cow is back and ready to go, this will look to get back on track in an underwhelming AFC South division.
As for the Falcons, the Cleveland Browns ended up making the trade for Deshaun Watson, who is currently serving an eleven-game suspension. After being unable to iron out a deal for Watson and souring the relationship with Ryan, the Falcons signed Las Vegas Raiders backup Marcus Mariota in free agency.