Matt Ryan Trade Grade: How Colts, Falcons fared in deal for NFL MVP

After the Indianapolis Colts acquired Matt Ryan from the Atlanta Falcons via a trade, what are the grades for the Colts and Falcons?

The Indianapolis Colts have found their successor for Carson Wentz … and at half the price. The Atlanta Falcons have more the longtime face of the franchise, QB Matt Ryan, for a measly Day 2 pick. Let’s grade the trade.

Falcons trade Matt Ryan to the Colts

The Falcons will receive a 2022 third-round pick from the Colts in exchange for Ryan. The timing is important as Ryan’s contract contains a $7.5 million roster bonus that was due after 4 PM ET on Monday, March 21.

The Falcons will take on an astronomical dead money hit of $40.5 million for trading Ryan, after flirting with and failing to land QB Deshaun Watson. With Watson now in Cleveland, Ryan will head to Indianapolis, where his $17.2 million base salary will slide comfortably onto the Colts’ payroll.

Below is how all three parties fared in the blockbuster trade.

QB Matt Ryan

After spending last year in offensive purgatory, Ryan will now join an offense with a few more notable weapons. Instead of having to force-feed a tight end all season, Ryan will be able to lean on running back Jonathan Taylor and target emerging wideout Michael Pittman Jr. with regularity.

The Colts appeared to be a QB away from contention last season, and their shortcomings seemed to be admittedly blamed on Wentz, whom the Colts traded last week. Ryan is a proven leader and an efficient point guard at the QB spot. He should be able to come in and make plays right away for Colts head coach Frank Reich, a longtime former NFL QB.

Landing with the Colts is a really nice twilight-of-career gift from the Falcons, who leaned on Ryan for 14 years.

GRADE: A

Indianapolis Colts

To land Ryan is one thing. To land him at half the going rate of Wentz is another. GM Chris Ballard, who has been readily criticized for his handling of Wentz, has bounced back in a big way here. Trading a third-round pick — the Colts had two, by the way — for a long-term franchise QB (Ryan has two years left on his deal) is a masterstroke in an offseason of rapid movement.

Ryan has the leadership skills the Colts clearly crave. He’s also not going to surprise play-callers with costly mistakes. The former Super Bowl MVP is a tone-setter, and he will make life better for the playmakers around him.

GRADE: A+

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons went for it with Watson and now have $40.5 million worth of egg on their face. The Falcons are trading Ryan knowing that their cap situation is now in shambles, and they have no notable starting QB on top of their depth chart.

While the Falcons have reported interest in former Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders QB Marcus Mariota, his outlook as a potential franchise QB is well, about as desirable as a used Chrysler Sebring convertible in a Minnesota winter.

The Falcons own the eighth overall pick in April’s draft and will almost certainly look for a QB in the first round. On top of that, they might need to trade up to land the QB they want in a less-than-ideal year for QB prospects. But hey, at least they got a third-round pick for the face of the franchise, right?

The Falcons have the worst roster in the league to the point that the Houston Texans are blushing. This trade could have been avoided, but the Falcons’ gamble on Watson blew up in their face, and now they’ll just try to build a roster that doesn’t waste the early years of standout tight end Kyle Pitts’ development.

GRADE: F

Mike Kaye is the Lead NFL Reporter for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @mike_e_kaye.

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