Matt Ryan has been traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the team announced on Monday afternoon.
This deal formally ends Ryan's 14-year tenure as the team's starting quarterback, where he set every major franchise passing record and led the Falcons to the playoffs six times.
The trade reaps valuable draft capital, frees up some salary-cap space in 2022 and sets the Falcons up to have a significant amount of cap space in 2023, creating the financial flexibility essential to the franchise's long-term health.
Ryan moves on to Indianapolis, which traded Carson Wentz to Washington earlier this offseason and needed a starting quarterback.
While Ryan has meant so much to the franchise during a long tenure that began back in 2008, the move allows the organization to focus on its long-term solution at quarterback. Owner Arthur Blank talked recently about the need to execute a succession plan at the position, which now begins as the Falcons move on from the person who started 222 games for the Falcons over 14 seasons.
We take a look back over Matt Ryan's career with the Falcons.
Getting Ryan's large contract and massive cap numbers off the books after the 2022 season – there will be dead money associated with this trade on this year’s cap -- helps general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith execute their long-term plan for the franchise and establish a period of sustained success.
They'll have to add a quarterback either in free agency or the NFL Draft or both to a position group where Feleipe Franks is the only signal caller currently under contract, as their search for the team's next franchise quarterback continues.
That will happen in time, as the team continues to supplement the roster for 2022 and beyond. Right now, they're saying farewell to Ryan, who finishes his Falcons tenure with 59,735 passing yards, 367 passing touchdowns and a 94.2 career passer rating. He was 120-102 as Falcons quarterback and won the MVP in 2016, when he led the Falcons to an NFC championship.