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3 ideal Matt Ryan trade destinations in 2022

Matt Johnson

The Atlanta Falcons opted against rebuilding in 2021, restructuring the Matt Ryan contract to create short-term cap relief. But after another disappointing season and with the franchise clearly in need of a rebuild, it might be time for Atlanta to consider trading its face of the franchise.

Since being drafted out of Boston College with the No. 3 pick, Ryan has always provided stability for Atlanta. He experienced success almost instantly, throwing a 62-yard touchdown on his first pass attempt. Over the last 14 seasons, Ryan has won an NFL MVP (2016), made the Pro Bowl four times and posted a winning record as the Falcons’ quarterback.

But the Falcons are closer to needing a complete teardown than competing for a Super Bowl. With Ryan entering his age-37 season in 2022, a trade might be in everyone’s best interests.

Let’s examine three potential trade destinations for Matt Ryan in 2022.

Denver Broncos finally land quarterback upgrade

NFL: Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos settled for Teddy Bridgewater this past offseason. It’s a decision that backfired this fall, costing the team a chance to compete for the AFC West. Because of it, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson will be atop the wishlist in 2022. But the asking price could make things uncomfortable, especially for a team with room to improve on the offensive and defensive lines.

Settling for Matt Ryan is a lot different than what happened with Bridgewater. Ryan is playing at a high level this season, completing 67.9% of his attempts and posting a 91-plus passer rating for the sixth consecutive year. What makes it more impressive, Calvin Ridley has missed a majority of the season and Atlanta’s pass protection is a disaster.

For Ryan, this is the perfect home. Denver will bring in a new play-caller next season, someone who can actually take advantage of the Broncos’ playmakers. That means throwing passes to Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and Noah Fant with Javonte Williams in the backfield. If the Broncos land Ryan, they are a playoff team.

Cleveland Browns take a chance on Matt Ryan

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Baker Mayfield isn’t the answer. Whether he wants to cite injuries for his down 2021 season or blames head coach Kevin Stefanski, the Cleveland Browns enter 2022 unconvinced they have a franchise quarterback. Cleveland has no time to waste, it needs to find stability at the position to compete in the AFC every year.

  • Matt Ryan contract: $48.662 million cap hit (2022), $43.6 million cap hit (2023)

There’s no doubt Ryan would enjoy operating in Stefanski’s offense. A run-heavy approach would fit into Cleveland’s tendency to run play action and Ryan has the sixth-highest PFF grade (86.7) and the eighth-best passer rating (111.2) on play-action this season. He is also excellent at throwing deep, posting the highest passer rating (121.7) on throws 20-plus yards downfield.

Ryan makes the Browns a legitimate contender in the AFC. Because of his contract, he would also come at a lower trade cost than a quarterback like Wilson or Watson. He might not be as great in commercials, but Cleveland will happily take the better quarterback.

New York Giants move on from Daniel Jones

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The smartest move for the New York Giants, like Atlanta, is rebuilding. But it’s evident ownership isn’t willing to do that. If that’s the case and John Mara is determined to prove he was right to hire Joe Judge as head coach, Daniel Jones can’t be the Giants’ starting quarterback next season.

  • Matt Ryan stats: 3,555 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 7.1 ypa, 67.0% completion rate

Ryan is certainly not an elite quarterback, but he is a far more efficient passer than Jones and he’d do a much better job protecting the football. That benefits New York in two very important ways. First, it means Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard would finally get on-target throws consistently. It also creates sustained drives and more points, making life much easier for an underrated Giants defense.

New York could keep its two first-round picks, using them to strengthen the offensive line. After that, Ryan could come in via trade and give this team a chance to compete for a playoff spot in 2022.