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'We anticipate Matt being part of the team:' Arthur Smith, Terry Fontenot discuss Matt Ryan

Fontenot also addresses succession plan at quarterback spot, has interview QBs at NFL combine


INDIANAPOLIS -- The Falcons have been careful how they talk about any player's status with the team this offseason, even someone under contract for two more seasons with sky-high cap numbers.

They don't want to box themselves in and understandably so. There's no sense in shutting down a possibly fruitful dialogue before it has a chance to start.


That has been the approach with all players including quarterback Matt Ryan, who had a solid first season working with Arthur Smith.

The Falcons head coach and offensive play caller has been asked about Ryan at every access point since the season finale, with consistent never-say-never messaging while praising the 36-year old's performance.

Smith used that same tact during a Tuesday afternoon press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine but came closer than before to acknowledging odds are high Ryan will be Falcons quarterback in 2022.

"We anticipate Matt being part of the team, but you don't ever back yourself into a corner," Smith said. "If someone gives you an offer you can't refuse – Matt knows how we feel about him. Matt has a lot of good football left in him."

Smith also acknowledged that Ryan "certainly feels good about where he's at" during this later stage of his NFL career.

General manager Terry Fontenot also praised Ryan's work in 2021 during his time at the combine podium.

"Matt is a great professional," Fontenot said. "He comes in every day and works to help the team win. I really appreciate Matt in terms of what he has been in terms of a leader, a worker and professional, for everything he has done here in Atlanta. From my vantage, it has been excellent and I really appreciate him."

Owner Arthur Blank acknowledged that the Falcons must enact a succession plan at quarterback, but the Falcons feel fortunate to have Ryan in place, which takes a hard deadline of adding a new signal caller.

"Where you can get in trouble is if you reach and feel desperate in certain areas," Fontenot said. "We're not going to do that, but we are going to evaluate. We have formal interviews with several quarterbacks [on Monday]. There's a good group in this draft. There are different flavors and, at the appropriate time, we'll add to that position. You can get in trouble if you reach and you don't feel good about a certain position."


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