INDIANAPOLIS – If nothing else, the Colts are finding plenty of band-aids at the most important position in sports.
Matt Ryan is the latest after the Colts traded a 2022 third-round pick for him on Monday.
At the age of 36, Ryan joins the Colts with the hope in Indy that their internal support around the new QB will lead to a player no longer showing the decline some key metrics would indicate in recent years. Ryan was the NFL’s MVP in 2016, but his play as of late would fall in the average category.
Pros in acquiring Ryan comes with his ability to ‘make the layups,’ which was a definite issue with Carson Wentz. Improved processing, and accuracy, should be there. From a tutelage standpoint, Ryan’s 14 yeas of NFL experience will aid a Sam Ehlinger, and any potential drafted QB the Colts make next month. Ryan has also been extremely durable throughout his career.
Cons from this move is it’s a continued short-term plan at a position that has lacked stability for 6 years now. Ryan’s play last season was arguably the worst of his career. Is that a 36-year-old tail spinning late in his career or more to do with those around him in Atlanta? Also, Ryan isn’t creating plays with his legs, which constricts some of the playbook and that is a concern when factoring in who the Colts will start at left tackle in 2022.
In many ways, Ryan will bring a very opposite look to the quarterback position than Wentz did.
Again, laying out the good and bad of such a move at QB is a reminder of the dire situation the Colts put themselves at with quarterback this offseason.
No matter the move, you were going to have questions.
Even Chris Ballard knew this back in January.
“It’s our job to problem solve and find the solution,” Ballard said back in January when talking about the needs faced this offseason. “It might not be the perfect solution. It might not be perfect. It might not be the long-term solution, but there’s a solution every year. There’s a little timing and luck of sometimes getting the long-term solutions to certain positions but there’s a solution for that year coming up. But that’s what we have to work towards.”
By no means should this trade for Ryan mean the Colts write off drafting a quarterback next month. If they fall in love with a particular signal caller, that pick still needs to be made, with development and learning under Ryan still at the forefront of things to accomplish in 2022.
Giving up a third-round pick is an important piece to evaluating this trade.
Doing that maintains the Colts’ full allotment of draft selections for 2023, which is really important as the team continues to try and find the long-term answer at QB.
The fact that the Colts were able to get more in return for Wentz than what they gave up for Ryan—still moved up 5 spots in Round 2 of 2022 and have an additional 3rd rounder in 2023— is another key part of this when factoring in remaining needs that need answers.
In the immediacy, where does the Ryan-led Colts fall in the AFC?
More support, primarily at LT, WR and TE, are a must around Ryan.
On paper, Ryan probably isn’t even a top 7-8 quarterback in the AFC. But the Colts play in the easiest division in the AFC, so making the playoffs goes down a much easier path than other divisions.
At 36, Ryan brings two years left on his contract, carrying cash of $23 million this year and $28 million next.
With this move, the Colts have around $15 million in cap space, with several prominent needs remaining.
Like with Philip Rivers and Wentz, the thought was the Colts were bringing in QBs that would be surrounded by better support, therefore leading to more promising results.
That hasn’t happened.
Is the third time the charm in this finally pushing the Colts to the upper half of the AFC?
Ryan’s 2021 Stats (NFL ranking)
-Completion percentage: 67% (13th)
-Yards: 3,968 (11th)
-Yards per pass attempt: 7.1 (18th)
-Quarterback rating: 41.5 (22nd)
-Touchdowns: 20 (17th)
-Interceptions: 12 (14th)