NFL Exec: Falcons' Matt Ryan Intriguing for Steelers to Replace Ben Roethlisberger

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVDecember 27, 2021

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes the ball under pressure from Detroit Lions defensive end Nick Williams (97) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

As Ben Roethlisberger's career in Pittsburgh likely winds down, the Steelers could target Matt Ryan as a short-term replacement.

“Matt Ryan is a name that would intrigue me,” a league executive told Mike Sando of The Athletic. “You are rebuilding in Atlanta. If you can get a decent package for Matt Ryan, do you do it? He’s a Pennsylvania guy, albeit from Philly. The Falcons would save cash. That one is interesting. You probably get [three-to-four] years if you are Pittsburgh. I don’t see [Mike] Tomlin as a blow-it-up, total-rebuild type.”

The Falcons can save $23.8 million on their salary cap if they trade Ryan after June 1 or $8.1 million if they move him before then. Ryan has not been much of a step up from Roethlisberger this season, throwing for 3,555 yards and 19 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He's thrown for over 300 yards only once since Calvin Ridley left the team for personal reasons in October.

Roethlisberger has failed to lead the Steelers on a touchdown drive in the first half of each of their last five games, the first time the franchise has done so since 1940. Pittsburgh is coming off an ugly 36-10 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that saw the team's only touchdown come in garbage time late in the fourth quarter.

Roethlisberger has not said whether he plans to retire at the end of the 2021 season, but he signed a one-year deal last offseason that signaled a make-or-break campaign. 

The Steelers (7-7-1) and Falcons (7-8) are on the outside looking in of the playoff picture.