Matt Ryan expected to finish his career with the Atlanta Falcons, remaining committed to the franchise even through difficult times at the end of a dominant era. When the club suddenly chose to pursue Deshaun Watson, it sparked something in the mild-mannered quarterback.
At the time, the 37-year-old quarterback handled it about as well as possible. With the Falcons’ efforts to pursue Watson – at the time facing two dozen allegations of sexual misconduct – public, their franchise quarterback remained quiet.
- Matt Ryan stats (2021): 3,968 passing yards, 20-12 TD-INT, 90.4 QB rating, 67% completion rate
Ultimately, Atlanta’s effort to replace Ryan with Watson fell short. While a trade demand was never made officially by the Falcons’ legend, he eventually became available and quickly landed with the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
A four-time Pro Bowl selection and the 2016 NFL MVP, Ryan is certainly excited about receiving a fresh start with a better opportunity to win. However, it’s also evident a quarterback known for rarely losing his cool will be fueled this season with some anger towards the Falcons’ organization.
Previewing storylines for the AFC on the Yahoo Sports’ You Pod to Win the Game podcast, NFL insider Charles Robinson shared insight on Ryan’s feelings. Typically a reserved quarterback, it seems the veteran will be playing in 2022 with a very different demeanor.
It comes as no real surprise that the Falcons left a franchise legend with resentment towards them. Despite having one of the worst rosters in the NFL and being years away from competing, Atlanta chose to pursue a controversial quarterback even if it meant discarding Ryan’s feelings.
The danger in making that attempt is how it can backfire, resulting in lasting damage to the team’s reputation and damaging a great relationship with a future member of the Falcons’ Ring of Honor. Ryan was also beloved in the community and likely would have been happy to spend his entire career with the same team even if it meant not competing for a Super Bowl.
Atlanta’s plan backfired and it will now head into a rebuilding season with quarterbacks Desmond Ridder and Marcus Mariota. Meanwhile, the Colts landed Ryan at a cheap price and will have a quarterback more motivated than ever to prove his old team wrong. Playing behind a much better offensive line with an even greater play-caller running the offense, Ryan could rebound in 2022.
In the end, Ryan landed in a superior situation and the Falcons could be stuck in quarterback purgatory for several years.
Related: Indianapolis Colts schedule