Matt Ryan has started 232 of the Atlanta Falcons' 235 games since 2008. He says he'd still be there if it weren't for the team's failed pursuit of Deshaun Watson.
Pro Football Talk — “When free agency starts to pick up and they start to look into what they want to do, I kind of got filled into the loop that they were going to look into Deshaun Watson,” Ryan said. “And then at that point, I said, OK, I understand. But I also need to look into what I need to look into. And if this doesn’t go down, find out if this is probably still the best fit for me.
“And as that week went on and just kind of looked into, on my end, what might be the best possible landing spot, or what was best for myself and my family moving forward, as we did that research, to me, it became one spot. And you never know, though, in that situation whether or not that one spot is also going to feel the same way about you. And for me, fortunately, they did. And they have the belief in me and what I can bring to this team. So, from that standpoint, I think it worked out perfectly on my end.”
Obviously, Watson didn’t choose the Falcons. But Ryan still ended up a Colt. So Russillo then asked Ryan if he thought he would still be a Falcon if the organization had not aggressively pursued Watson.
“Had none of this gone down? There’s probably a chance — a pretty good chance,” Ryan said. “But it did, you know? So when it does, when the situations change and the circumstances change… You know, I had always thought, like everybody, when you’re drafted there, and you play there, this is where I’m going to play my entire career. For 14 years, every day I woke up, it was to try and help the Falcons win a championship. And that had been reciprocated on the other end for me. And so when that changed, I had to look into it.
“It’s certainly been a big change, for sure. But a good one. And so, it’s hard to say. But I think honestly, it’s more than likely I probably would’ve still been there had circumstances been different. But I’m excited with where I’m at.”
So let me make sure I have all of this right.
The Falcons presumably could have had Ryan for one more year in a season where they added a receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft to pair alongside Kyle Pitts. Instead, they went after Deshaun Watson, ensuring Ryan's departure whether they succeeded or failed in that pursuit. They then didn't get Watson, Ryan was traded to Indianapolis and Atlanta ended up signing Marcus Mariota, all to still draft Desmond Ridder in the third round the year before the likes of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud will be available.
The Falcons not knowing what they're doing isn't exactly breaking news, but it is truly amazing how consistently and spectacularly they continue to get in their own way. The next thing that franchise does that makes sense will be the first.
You know what? Good for Matt Ryan. I hope the Colts have an awesome season and make a run at a Super Bowl. That guy deserves it.