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Matt Ryan Makes Escape From Falcons, Which Are Planning A Reunion For Coach Arthur Smith — UPDATE: Reunion Confirmed

The NFL quarterback carousel continues to spin, and the new rider changing ponies before the ride stops is Matt Ryan, who has been traded from the Atlanta Falcons to the Indianapolis Colts, a source confirmed Monday.

Yes, another accomplished quarterback to the AFC.

Yes, the Colts are getting their seventh starting quarterback in seven years.

The Colts are reportedly sending the Falcons a third-round pick in the upcoming draft in exchange for Ryan. And the Falcons’ new quarterback… Well, it was supposed to be Deshaun Watson, whom the Falcons chased last week. But they didn’t land Deshaun Watson.

Still, Ryan, who will be 37 when the 2022 season begins, seems like a good fit in Indy. That club has a good roster that coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard believe is playoff-ready with one exception.

A good quarterback was the exception.

Ryan fits that need. He’s helped his team win the NFC South. He’s helped his team play in a Super Bowl. And he’s delivered 20 touchdowns pass or more for 13 consecutive years, even in years the Falcons were not very good.

Ryan is now arguably the best quarterback in the AFC South. He’s certainly the most accomplished.

Ryan leaving the Falcons is logical because he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and while the Colts are in win-now mode, the Falcons are in a rebuild phase as a team.

Ryan’s desire to move on became clear last week when the Falcons were in the middle of the Watson chase. He agreed to postpone the payment of a roster bonus to allow the Falcons to move forward. In return, Ryan was assured the Falcons would shop his services to a team of his choosing, which makes sense because he has a no-trade clause.

This move is not without cost for Atlanta. They’ll be left with a $40.525 million salary cap hit for the privilege of trading Ryan. But that is actually a $9 million savings, which will help defray the cost of paying their new quarterback.

The Falcons, without a quarterback, are now on the market and could pursue a reunion between head coach Arthur Smith and free agent quarterback Marcus Mariota, a source confirmed to OutKick. The NFL Network was the first to report this possibility.

So this all works out for everyone.

UPDATE: The Falcons have confirmed that they have signed Mariota to a two-year deal.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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  1. I hope Mariota gets a shot to start in ATL. He’s been a class act after getting kicked to the curb in Tennessee and shipped off to the Raiders to watch a very mediocre Carr lead them to very mediocre outcomes. When he’s played he’s been exciting to watch and still can run like a deer. Anyway, he’s a rare good dude in this league I root for, so I hope he wins a starter job again.

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