Matt Ryan Trade: Indianapolis Colts May As Well Have Kept Carson Wentz

The Indianapolis Colts have finally found their quarterback, and guess what? He’s an MVP-caliber player. After all, Matt Ryan is an NFL MVP-caliber quarterback if you’re remembering his skillset from 2016.

Six years later, the Colts may as well have just stuck with Carson Wentz.

Matt Ryan was the ‘prize’ at the end of the tunnel for the Indianapolis Colts

Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts
Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons passes the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Indianapolis Colts | Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

All along it was Ryan. He’s the quarterback the Colts obviously had their eye on. He’s their prize for being so patient and bold this offseason.

The trade became official with the stamp of approval from the team on Twitter.

“Got him,” the Colts Tweeted as if they were simply copying the wording they used when they drafted prime Andrew Luck No. 1 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. What followed was a series of Tweets depicting Lucas Oil Stadium as if it had turned into some sort of frozen tundra with the arrival of the man they once called “Matty Ice.”

To be fair to the Colts, Ryan did at one point have ice in his veins. In fact, he came out of the gate icy fresh for the Atlanta Falcons as a rookie out of Boston College. He helped lead the team to the playoffs while throwing for 3,440 yards and 16 touchdowns (11 interceptions) in his first season of NFL action.

Ryan was a top 10 quarterback in the NFL for much of his career, but he arguably peaked in 2016 when he threw for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns with just seven interceptions and won the NFL’s MVP award. That’s the season he led the Falcons to the Super Bowl and even had a 28-3 lead on Tom Brady and company before the Falcons found themselves on the other end of potentially the greatest comeback of all time. The Patriots rushed back from that deficit and ultimately beat Atlanta in Super Bowl 51, 34-28.

Ironically enough, 2016 featured both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for Ryan and the Falcons.

He’s been on a steady decline since, which happens to all quarterbacks not named Brady. Now at 36-years-old, he’s a shell of the MVP he once was.

It has been a bad few months for the Colts

Chris Ballard, Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts General Manger Chris Ballard looks up at the big screen TV during a preseason game between the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings | Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan is the light at the end of the tunnel for Indianapolis, but perhaps that light is an oncoming train because “trainwreck” is a great way to describe the Colts since the dawn of the new year.

It started on January 2nd with a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders at home. The very next weekend, Indy faced a must-have win-to-get-in scenario against the two-win Jacksonville Jaguars. All they had to do was beat Jacksonville by one single solitary point and they would have been a playoff team.

What happened down in Florida was a 26-11 embarrassment at the hands of a team with an interim coach. Wentz was lukewarm at best, completing just 17 of 29 passes for 185 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The defense, thought to be a strength for Indianapolis, let rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence throw for 223 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

“I won’t sit up here and make excuses as to why we got our a** beat in Jacksonville because that’s what happened. We got our a** beat,” general manager Chris Ballard said at his season-ending press conference a few days later, per Pro Football Talk.

“Don’t like to lose. It’s not acceptable. And we won’t accept it,” Ballard said.

It was certainly a low point for the Colts, but somehow and someway, in the weeks since, things have felt even worse.

The Colts should have just stuck with Carson Wentz

Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts
(L-R) Matt Ryan, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, and Carson Wentz, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts | odd Kirkland/Getty Images; Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

First came the trade of Wentz to the Washington Commanders.

Sure, it made sense because Wentz clearly wasn’t “the guy” and the Colts got a handful of picks in return. With that said, it was a move that only made sense if “the guy” at quarterback was eventually going to find his way to Indianapolis, but Ballard and the Colts dropped that ball on several key players.

Aaron Rodgers re-signed with the Packers rather than ask for a trade. The Seattle Seahawks traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. The Houston Texans wouldn’t trade them Deshaun Watson, because of course they wouldn’t trade within the division. Heck, even Jacoby Brissett signed with the Browns, and Case Keenum was traded to the Bills.

Quarterback after quarterback became unavailable for the Colts, but now Matt Ryan is supposed to be the one who can turn this thing back around for Indianapolis?

The argument for the trade is that all Indy gave away was a third-round pick, but the argument against it is this: They simply swapped out one quarterback on the other side of his prime for another.

Wentz threw for 3,563 yards and 27 touchdowns last season with seven interceptions. He had an average completion percentage of 62.4% and a QBR of 54.7 on the season.

Ryan threw for 3,968 yards and 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions in 2021. His average completion percentage was 65.5%, but his QBR was 46.1.

Wentz is 29. Ryan is about to turn 37.

The Colts are right. It’s going to be an ice-cold season in Indianapolis.

Stats courtesy of ESPN and Pro Football Reference. Contract information via Spotrac

RELATED: Matt Ryan Leaves Atlanta Falcons as Unquestionable Best QB in Franchise History