It was a night of heartbreak for Atlanta Falcons fans, who watched their team get blown out by the Cleveland Browns. The bad news got worse as only one pick later, Deshaun Watson picked Cleveland in his first NFL game after being drafted #12 overall in 2017.
The “deshaun watson falcons trade” is a question that has been on everyone’s mind since the NFL Draft. The Atlanta Falcons have traded Matt Ryan to the Cleveland Browns. What will happen next for both teams?
FLOWERY BRANCH, Georgia – The Atlanta Falcons have spent the last week attempting to replace aging former MVP quarterback Matt Ryan with Deshaun Watson, a quarterback in his prime who is the subject of 22 civil complaints claiming sexual assault and improper behavior during massage sessions.
Watson’s chase by the Falcons looks to be finished, as he appears to be on his way to the Cleveland Browns.
What about the Falcons?
They’ve been chastised as a team for seeking Watson in the first place while also risking alienating their franchise quarterback.
Ryan is now in a position of authority. Would anybody blame the 36-year-old if, like Baker Mayfield in Cleveland, he decides he’s had enough and tells Atlanta to leave?
It would be a departure for Ryan, who has always been a consummate professional since being picked by the Falcons in 2008. He’s done all of those things perfectly for the last 14 seasons, including this week, when he remained silent while the Falcons openly pursued an instant succession plan no one saw coming.
What now for the Falcons-Ryan connection that was once so happy? There are a couple different paths this might go.
There’s nothing worth seeing here.
If Ryan sticks on the path he’s taken his whole career, and continues to be a player who handles every difficulty brought his way with the greatest professionalism and integrity, Atlanta may be able to salvage the situation.
Ryan could be professional and say he understands what the Falcons did, that he’s glad to be here, and that business is business. After the way this has been handled, with leaks and conjecture from all sides, Ryan would have to have a lot of guts to do that.
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If the Falcons are able to do so, they should attempt to go this way. Admit you went for Watson, but minimize how difficult the pursuit was before making a significant commitment to Ryan.
Is this a short-term contract extension? It shouldn’t — and it would be another hazardous move on Atlanta’s part — but if the Falcons want to keep their quarterback happy while keeping him in Atlanta, this may be the way to go. Another approach to demonstrate his dedication would be to find him a suitable receiving corps, which presently does not exist.
The Falcons’ thwarted pursuit of Watson isn’t going away anytime soon, but if they want to make amends publicly, a press conference with Ryan, coach Arthur Smith, general manager Terry Fontenot, and owner Arthur Blank sooner rather than later could help.
Ryan is expected to return to Atlanta in 2022 and maybe beyond in this scenario.
The path of Pandora’s box
When the Falcons postponed Ryan’s $7.5 million roster bonus deadline from Friday to Tuesday so he could look into trade alternatives, it created the door for Ryan to want to move on regardless of what occurred with Watson.
Ryan may have begun his investigation and discovered that another club, such as the Indianapolis Colts or Seattle Seahawks, is a more appealing and winning choice at this point in his career. While Ryan felt hopeful about the future of the Falcons and his role in it in January, such public humiliation may have altered his mind.
At this point, the Falcons would nearly have to fulfill Ryan’s request for a trade. They’ve already tarnished their public image by courting and then losing Watson, and if they don’t accommodate the requests of the quarterback they’ve just put through the ringer, the Falcons will look much worse.
Of course, regardless of whether Atlanta wanted Watson or not, it’s feasible in this circumstance that Atlanta has opted not to bring him back. If that had been the case, the Falcons could have handled it better as well.
The succession path route
This might be the most practical solution for all parties. In this situation, the Falcons and Ryan are aware that their collaboration is nearing to an end, but they also recognize that the best choice is to make 2022 work and see what happens from there, similar to what Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers experienced.
In this scenario, the Falcons may choose a quarterback early in the draft, perhaps as high as No. 8, despite the fact that this is a dubious use of resources for a club in desperate need of skill. This would enable Ryan to play and win in Atlanta for one more season while also grooming his potential successor for the future.
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Ryan has always come across as a willing coach to young guys, whether it’s with rookie receivers or even last year’s backup Josh Rosen. The Falcons can move their future forward at a respectable speed in this scenario, particularly if everyone knows the goal (even if they don’t discuss it publicly), and Ryan can have another season to figure out where his own future could play out.
How does all of this come to pass? It might all come down to Ryan’s decision to remain or depart.
Frequently Asked Questions
What did the Falcons get for Matt Ryan?
A: The Falcons traded Matt Ryan to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional sixth-round pick.
Who will replace Matt Ryan in Atlanta?
A: Matt Ryan is not actually going to be replaced in Atlanta.
Did Matt Ryan get released from the Falcons?
A: Unfortunately, Matt Ryan was released from the Atlanta Falcons. He has since signed with the New York Giants
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