After nearly 15 years of service with the Atlanta Falcons, veteran quarterback Matt Ryan will wear an Indianapolis Colts helmet this fall. The recent trade that sent Ryan, the greatest quarterback in Falcons history, to Lucas Oil Stadium only furthered an unprecedented offseason of quarterback movement around the NFL.
Although the 36-year-old joined a Colts team built to contend for an AFC South title next season, he’s already almost guaranteed to miss out on an opportunity that other quarterbacks, including Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, could receive this fall.
Unlike Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan probably won’t get to face his old team next season
The NFL’s schedule system is fairly simple. Each team plays six games, two each, against the teams in their division. They play other divisions in their conference every three years and face teams from the opposing conference every four years. Unless, of course, each team makes the Super Bowl.
Take the Colts, for example. Under the current scheduling format, the AFC South — which has included the Colts since its creation ahead of the 2002 season — first faced the NFC South in 2003. Because they face off every four years, the Colts and Falcons next met in 2007, then 2011, and so forth.
Unless the Colts and Falcons win their respective conferences, Ryan will not face his team in a meaningful game until the 2023 season. As of publication, neither team had announced its preseason schedule, so it is unknown if they will play one another in August.
Watson and Wilson, on the other hand, will see their new teams play their former employers at some point this fall. Watson’s Cleveland Browns have a road game against the Houston Texans, the team that drafted him in 2017 and traded him in mid-March. Similarly, Wilson’s Denver Broncos will play the Seattle Seahawks in Washington next season. However, Denver and Seattle regularly play one another in the preseason, so there might potentially be two rematches.
It is essential to note that any potential injury — or in Watson’s case, suspension — could force them to miss the reunion. The NFL is not expected to announce its schedule until May.
Watson and Wilson aren’t the only starting quarterbacks due for a revenge opportunity next season
As of April 6, 2022, five starting quarterbacks are slated to have revenge opportunities against their 2021 teams next season. Two quarterbacks — Washington Commanders veteran Carson Wentz and Minnesota Vikings signal-caller Kirk Cousins — would tentatively face the team that drafted them. However, as Cousins has not played for Washington since 2017, he is not among the aforementioned five players.
Wentz, who played for the Colts in 2021, is the only quarterback on this list who would face his 2021 and 2020 employers.
|Quarterback||Current team||Revenge team(s)||Where will game be played?|
|Carson Wentz||Washington Commanders||Indianapolis Colts; Philadelphia Eagles (not 2021 employer)||At Indianapolis; home and at Philadelphia (NFC East rivals)|
|Deshaun Watson||Cleveland Browns||Houston Texans||Houston|
|Drew Lock||Seattle Seahawks||Denver Broncos||Seattle|
|Kirk Cousins||Minnesota Vikings||Washington Commanders (not 2021 employer)||Washington|
|Mitchell Trubisky||Pittsburgh Steelers||Buffalo Bills||Buffalo|
|Russell Wilson||Denver Broncos||Seattle Seahawks||Seattle|
To be fair, Lock and Trubisky are expected to compete for the starting jobs with their respective teams. However, if they are the starters when they face the Broncos and Bills, respectively, it would qualify as a revenge game.
Injuries could force other backup quarterbacks into revenge opportunities. For all we know, Miami Dolphins veteran Teddy Bridgewater might get to start against the Minnesota Vikings, the team that drafted him in 2014.
As for Ryan, he’ll likely have to wait until 2023. Something tells us the Falcons won’t be making a Super Bowl run this year.