NFL rumors: 5 most-likely Matt Ryan trade scenarios

Could the Atlanta Falcons trade star signal-caller Matt Ryan? It's a question that will be raised on the NFL rumor mill for the next several months...

By Vincent Frank

Could a Matt Ryan trade be in the cards for the Atlanta Falcons? It’s a question that will be raised on the NFL rumor mill for the next several months after Atlanta fired head coach Dan Quinn and owner Arthur Blank recently indicated that both Ryan and Julio Jones might not be with the Falcons in 2021.

If the 35-year-old Ryan is indeed put on the trade block after the Falcons’ four-win season, rumors will certainly link him to multiple contending teams around the NFL. That starts in Northern California and continues further east in Big D.

Related: NFL trade rumors

Matt Ryan trade to the San Francisco 49ers

Matt Ryan trade to the 49ers?
Jan 22, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) speaks with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan after the game against the Green Bay Packers in the 2017 NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta defeated Green Bay 44-21. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s look at the most obvious Ryan trade scenarios. Ryan, 35, enjoyed his best season under Shanahan when the now-49ers head coach was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator back in 2016. That season saw Ryan complete 70% of his passes for nearly 5,000 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions en route to leading Atlanta to the Super Bowl and earning the NFL MVP award. From an on-field perspective, this fit makes too much sense.

There’s also a $137.5 million elephant in the locker room in Santa Clara. Despite leading the 49ers to a shocking Super Bowl appearance in 2019, rumors suggest that Jimmy Garoppolo could be out of a job in Northern California. A release or trade would save the 49ers north of $24 million against the cap. That’s where Matt Ryan comes into play. He’d be a perfect fit with Shanahan. That’s for sure.

Matt Ryan trade to the New England Patriots

Matt Ryan trade to the Patriots?
Oct 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) reacts after failing to convert on a fourth down play during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

We previously focused on Ryan to the Patriots trade scenarios. Cam Newton was playing at a high level for Bill Belichick and Co. before coming down with COVID-19. He then struggled big time throughout the remainder of the season. All said, Newton threw eight touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 starts. He’s now likely gone from New England.

Related: Patriots QB options in 2021

This is where Matt Ryan trade rumors to the Pats should heat up in the coming weeks. At 68 years old, Belichick is the second-oldest head coach in the league. His team remains in win-now mode. Doling out a first-round pick and change in a trade for a quarterback who has a lot of good football left in him makes sense. Expect these rumors to increase in size depending on the Falcons’ coaching situation.

Matt Ryan trade to the Chicago Bears

NFL rumors: Matt Ryan trade to the Bears?
Dec 20, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half of a NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Rumors persisted leading up to Week 1 that the Bears would start former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles over first-round bust Mitchell Trubisky. In shocking fashion, that did not come to fruition. Trubisky started to open the campaign, only to be replaced by Foles in Week 3. While the former No. 2 pick did indeed come back to lead the Bears to a playoff appearance, it’s an open question whether the impending free agent will return to Chicago in 2021.

Related: NFL Playoff schedule and predictions

Even then, Matt Nagy’s job will be on the line in 2021. The same will be said for general manager Ryan Pace. Obviously, a Matt Ryan trade would act as a major upgrade for the Bears. The only question here is whether they can afford his $40.9 million cap hit with Foles still on the payroll.

Matt Ryan trade to the Indianapolis Colts

Falcons QB Matt Ryan during game against Buccaneers
Dec 29, 2019; Tampa, Florida, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) calls a play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis seems to have a roster capable of competing for a Super Bowl appearance. However, the team’s quarterback situation has let it down since Andrew Luck’s shocking retirement ahead of the 2019 NFL season. That has changed thus far in 2020 with Philip Rivers leading the team to an 11-5 regular-season record and a playoff appearance.

Related: Colts QB options for 2021

However, umors linking Ryan to the Colts in a trade could pick up steam their season comes to a conclusion. Remember, Rivers signed a mere one-year, $25 million deal with Indy during the spring. Recent rumors also suggest that the 39-year-old quarterback could retire in the offseason. If so, a Matt Ryan trade to Indianapolis makes a ton of sense.

Matt Ryan trade to the Dallas Cowboys

Matt Ryan trade to the Cowboys?
Dec 20, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half of a NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas has recently been linked to another high-profile signal caller in rumors following the season-ending injury to Dak Prescott. For good reason. The Cowboys and their current franchise quarterback were in the midst of protracted contract negotiations that went nowhere during the spring. Prescott is now set to become a free agent once March comes calling. Dallas might say it is committed to the quarterback, but that could be PR spin.

Related: Cowboys off-season preview

As for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, it’s not a secret that he likes to make those splashy moves. Sending Atlanta a first-round pick and change for Matt Ryan in a trade would qualify as that after a horrible six-win season. It would also fix the Cowboys’ issues under center for the foreseeable future should the Prescott marriage take a dramatic turn following his injury. These rumors will become commonplace should Atlanta actually put Ryan on the trade block.