FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes what Matt Ryan can do to take another step towards Canton as well as the Browns bolstering their linebacker corps.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Bleacher Report: NFL stars on verge of cementing HOF status this season
When it comes to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, some NFL fans and pundits are engaged in debating whether he deserves the status of an "elite" quarterback. While that term is entirely subjective, the debate is inherently part of the NFL fan experience – however inconsequential it may be.
One conversation that carries a bit more weight to it is a player's Hall of Fame resume. Ryan has put together an impressive career since joining the league a decade ago, and he is building a decent case for Hall of Fame consideration. Bleacher Report's Brad Gagnon took a look at some NFL stars who could cement their Canton resume this season, and Ryan is the third player he deems to be "on the brink."
"Had the Falcons not choked in Super Bowl LI, Ryan would be at least find himself a tad closer to the Hall of Fame track," Gagnon writes. "Another deep playoff run along with a Pro Bowl nod would potentially allow him to leapfrog Rivers and Manning on the Canton quarterback hierarchy. But in order to truly cement a Hall of Fame case in his age-33 season, the 2008 third overall pick would probably have to put together another 2016-level year, along with a happier finish."
"If Ryan can earn a second MVP award and a second Super Bowl appearance in a three-year span, it'll hard to keep him out of Canton when he retires. And yes, that's a tall task. But consider how much talent there is around him there in Atlanta, as well as the fact he seems to excel in even-numbered years (his four Pro Bowl campaigns took place in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016)."
In his 10 NFL seasons, Ryan has started 158 games for the Falcons, only missing two starts due to injury. He's thrown for 41,796 yards for 260 touchdowns with 126 interceptions while completing 65 percent of his pass attempts.
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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
NFL.com: Browns signing Mychal Kendricks to one-year deal
The Browns bolstered their linebacker corps over the weekend, signing free agent linebacker Mychal Kendricks to a one-year deal, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
Kendricks could likely make an immediate impact on the interior of the Browns' defense, joining Jamie Collins, Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey in Gregg Williams' defensive scheme. After the Eagles released Kendricks in a surprising move earlier this offseason, he was someone who pundits speculated the Falcons may pursue.
During his six years in the NFL, Kendricks has recorded 459 tackles, 14 sacks, 26 passes defensed, three interceptions and six forced fumbles.
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