Report: Falcons 'Comfortable' with Matt Ryan Amid Julio Jones Trade Rumors

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2021

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Jason Behnken/Associated Press

The Atlanta Falcons will have the opportunity to draft a quarterback with the No. 4 pick of the 2021 NFL draft, but it might not necessarily be a need with Matt Ryan still on the roster.  

"For what it's worth, the buzz around the NFL has been that [general manager Terry] Fontenot and [head coach Arthur] Smith are comfortable going forward with Ryan, if that's where Atlanta lands," Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported. "But if the right quarterback falls here? Who knows?"

Breer also noted Fontenot has done "some relationship-building" with the veteran quarterback.

One factor that could signal a rebuild, however, is the potential trade of Julio Jones. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Falcons have "received calls" about a trade for Jones, even if it's unlikely he is moved until after June 1 for "cap reasons."

Peter King of NBC Sports also said it wouldn't be surprising if the Falcons put the framework together for a trade effective on June 2.

The Falcons are coming off three straight losing seasons including a 4-12 mark in 2020. The team could be looking for a fresh start under new coach Arthur Smith, which would include drafting a new quarterback in Round 1 (possibly Trey Lance or Justin Fields if they get past No. 3). Trading Jones would likely signal a rebuild and an eventual departure for Ryan, who turns 36 next month.

However, the team also has an option to stick with the quarterback and build the rest of the roster.

Ryan has only missed three starts in his 13 years in the NFL and remains effective under center, finishing 2020 with 4,581 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. 

The contract that runs through the 2022 season will also likely prevent any immediate movement. He is near impossible to move this year, and the Falcons would be left with $40.525 million in dead cap if he is traded or released next offseason, per Spotrac.

It could lead to Atlanta taking another impact player such as Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and worry about quarterback in the future.