HomeSportsMatt Ryan Named Falcons’ ‘Worst Contract’ in 2022

Matt Ryan Named Falcons’ ‘Worst Contract’ in 2022


Matt Ryan calling signals vs. the Dallas Cowboys.

Matt Ryan is carrying a contract the Atlanta Falcons could do without. That’s according to Bleacher Report writer Alex Ballentine, who believes the 36-year-old quarterback is taking up too much salary cap space for a franchise stuck firmly in rebuilding mode.

What compounds matters is the difficulty of moving Ryan and his heft salary off the books before the start of the 2022 NFL season. It’s a question of timing, but Ballentine doesn’t think the Falcons can afford to move on from Ryan just yet.

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Ryan’s Too Expensive to Shift

Ballentine outlined how Ryan’s contract, which is set to expire in 2024, puts the Falcons in a bind this offseason: “with a $48.6 million cap hit, Ryan is currently in line to be the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback next season. They’d have a dead cap hit of $40.5 million if they cut or trade him before June 1.”

As Ballentine also noted, the Falcons have options, but their choices ultimately appear limited: “They could trim that dead cap hit to $24.9 million if they designate him a post-June 1 cut or trade. But either way, it would be extremely pricey for the Falcons to move on from Ryan this offseason.”

The idea Ryan will still be the starting quarterback in Atlanta next season has gained momentum recently. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has poured cold water on rumors Ryan might replace Ben Roethlisberger for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mortensen’s fellow ESPN writer Michael Rothstein has also made a case for why Ryan will remain a Falcon. His argument is based on how Ryan “showed proficiency” during his first year in the system of head coach Arthur Smith. Rothstein also noted how the 2022 NFL draft isn’t strong in gifted quarterbacks.

Ryan himself has made it clear he wants to stay where he’s been for his entire 14 seasons as a pro. Rothstein tweeted the experienced signal-caller’s comments when Ryan was asked about his future following Atlanta’s 30-20 defeat to the New Orleans Saints in Week 17:

Ryan’s place appears secure, especially since the Falcons should focus their efforts this offseason on improving the talent around the man under center.

Ryan Needs More Help

There’s no denying Ryan’s numbers are on the decline. His regression has been outlined in detail by Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus: “His 75.8 PFF grade this season was his lowest since his second year in the league. Ryan’s arm doesn’t look what it once used to be, and his play under pressure is an issue. His performance when kept clean is far better, but even from a clean pocket, his big-time throw rate sat at just 2.6%, 27th in the NFL.”

Monson’s last note about how Ryan’s numbers look good when he’s kept free from pressure is telling. He didn’t have the luxury of a clean pocket very often in 2021.

Ryan was sacked 40 times, continuing a career-long trend of taking punishment in a Falcons uniform, according to Falcoholic writer Scott Carasik:

Aside from the issues with his protection, Ryan was also short of quality targets. The problem began when Julio Jones was dealt to the Tennessee Titans last offseason. Yet, it was compounded once Calvin Ridley stepped away from football to look after his mental wellbeing.

Ryan still managed to make things work with record-breaking rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. He also developed a promising rapport with wide receiver Russell Gage during the final weeks of the regular season.

The problem is Pitts is sure to be a marked man during his second year, while Gage is a pending free agent. What Ryan needs is a few more capable pass-catchers and sturdier blockers in the trenches.

Swinging both of those things will be a tough needle to thread for general manager Terry Fontenot.  He’s dealing with modest cap space, currently worth $10,591,364, per

Restructuring Ryan’s bloated contract would be the simplest way for Fontenot to free up dollars for some much-needed recruitment in other areas. It wouldn’t be the first time Fontenot has reworked the terms paid to an established veteran.

He did it last offseason when left tackle Jake Matthews adjusted his deal to create additional cap space. Fontenot could capitalise on Ryan’s desire to stay in Atlanta to add to the Falcons’ coffers for free agency.

That money could go toward a new wide receiver, leaving the eighth-overall pick in the draft to be used on an instant starter along the offensive line. Both of those things would make keeping Ryan in the fold for 2022 look like a wise investment.

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