The Atlanta Falcons franchise has been down in the dumps since their Super Bowl 51 appearance. Since their Super Bowl run, the team has put together a 28-36 regular-season record. After a 4-12 season in 2020, the futures of star players Matt Ryan and Julio Jones were in question.
Both players are under contract with the team, but there have been rumors about them being available in trade talks. As much as the Falcons might want to trade them, it is likely that won’t happen this offseason. The financial hit that would come moving these stars would be too much for the Falcons to bear.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones were in trade rumors
After what was a disappointing season, the Atlanta Falcons were looking to make changes to their roster. They fired Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff, another signal that the franchise was looking for a fresh start. With new coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot at the helm, it was the thought that Matt Ryan and Julio Jones were on the way out. Falcons owner Arthur Blank wasn’t sure what the future held for those two.
“Who will come forward with a plan for us to have a championship team, a competitive team, et cetera. And that may include Matt and Julio for now, for the next two years, three years, or may not. I have no idea,” Blank said per Bleacher Report.
Both Jones and Ryan put together solid 2020 campaigns. Jones caught 51 passes for 771 yards last year. A hamstring injury limited him to nine games, but it is known that Jones can dominate when fully healthy. Ryan threw for 4,581 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 2020. Both still have a lot left in the tank, which is why they were involved in trade rumors.
With a new coaching regime and general manager, the dynamic duo in Atlanta looked like it was heading toward a breakup. It doesn’t look like the breakup will happen, at least for now, as the Falcons aren’t in a position to trade either player. The financial ramifications wouldn’t be worth shipping away either of them.
The Atlanta Falcons aren’t expected to trade Matt Ryan or Julio Jones
Despite the trade buzz surrounding the Falcons’ football stars, the team isn’t going to trade them this offseason, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The team isn’t ready to break up the tandem with Smith coming in as the coach. Arthur Smith is planning to run an offense similar to what Kyle Shanahan did with Ryan.
“From what I am told, Matt Ryan is not going anywhere. The Falcons have not had any trade conversations about Ryan or their star wide receiver Julio Jones. And every expectation is both players are going to be on the roster in 2021,” said Pelissero per NFL.com.
The biggest reason why Ryan and Jones won’t be traded is because of the financial blow the Falcons would sustain if they did. If the team trades Ryan by June 1, it would leave Atlanta with over $44 million in dead money, per Spotrac. If they trade him after that date, it will save the team $23 million, but that dead-money hit would be sizeable. The team is in a similar position with Jones. Unloading him would bring a $23 million dead cap hit.
The Atlanta Falcons don’t think it is worth unloading both players, especially with the league salary cap uncertain this offseason. Atlanta is currently over the cap, so offloading their stars would hurt them even more. It doesn’t make sense for the Falcons to get rid of Jones or Ryan because of the financial consequences.
The Falcons can still plan for the future
Keeping both Matt Ryan and Julio Jones is a good thing for the Falcons. With them on the roster, it keeps them competitive. However, they can still plan for their future while still being a contending team. In the upcoming draft, the Falcons have the No. 4 overall pick. With Ryan turning 36 in May, Atlanta could use that pick to select their quarterback of the future.
There will be a plethora of prospects the Falcons can choose at that spot. Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance are some of the players the Falcons can pick. Grabbing a quarterback in this year’s draft would be beneficial for Atlanta. Whoever the team selects will have Ryan as a mentor, and the team now has a quarterback that can step in when Ryan retires or the team moves on from him.
The Falcons already have their No. 1 receiver after Julio Jones in Calvin Ridley. He has set the league on fire, racking up 26 touchdowns and over 3000 receiving yards in his first three seasons. Jones has been instrumental in Ridley’s development, helping him and other receivers whenever he gets the chance.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are staying put with the Atlanta Falcons, with their financial situation as the primary reason. More needs to happen to the roster this offseason, but having this outstanding tandem back sets expectations for the Falcons. The dynamic quarterback/receiver duo isn’t going anywhere, at least for this year.