By Jon McNabb
It's that time of year again, folks. The void of time between playoffs and the Superbowl. In typical fashion Twitter blows up with hypothetical trade scenarios in which player A, in a mega-wild deal is traded to team X. Speaking of which, the football gods bestowed the football community with such a trade. Matt Stafford was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff, a 2021 third, a 2022 first and a 2023 first.
In typical fashion, the fantasy football community went F'ing nuts!
I'm here to offer my hypothetical scenarios based on Falcons owner Arthur Blank's statement saying that none of the team's players will be off limits. Obviously, this includes Matt Ryan. In my three hypothetical scenarios, Matty Ice will be sent to:
New England - in a last effort to get one more Super Bowl before Bill Belichick decides to retire.
San Francisco - being united with former Falcons coach Kyle Shanahan, to get that Super Bowl ring they couldn't get in their last season together.
Indianapolis - who are one competent play-caller away from shaking up the AFC.
Let's dive on in and get crazy!
The New England Patriots:
In my first scenario, the seven-time Super Bowl champions trade for Matt Ryan, pairing a future Hall of Fame quarterback with one of the greatest coaches of all time, Bill Belichick. Now I know what you're thinking, why the heck would Ryan go play for the team that came back from a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl LI against, you got it, his Atlanta Falcons. If you don't remember Julian Edelman's catch in this game, you missed one of the best catches of all time. Here it is:
When I saw this, I lost my mind!
In my completely unbiased opinion, this trade would put Matty Ice on the right side of history, for most Superbowl wins by any franchise in the NFL. In this hypothetical, Todd Gurley follows Matt Ryan to New England, in a committee with another bargain free agent running back, Marlon Mack, given that New England is set to have nearly $60 million in cap space in 2021. Reality is, what good is a quarterback with no weapons to toss the rock to?
In another free agent move, The Pats lure Will Fuller on board. In 2020, Fuller was having his best statistical and healthiest season of his career until a suspension for using performance enhancing drugs ended things a bit early. New England offers structure, something Fuller needs. And, the Patriots get a bargain. A man can dream, right?
The San Francisco 49ers:
In another wild trade, Matt Ryan is shipped to the Niners to be reunited with Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator who helped lead the Atlanta Falcons to Super Bowl LI and one of Ryan's best seasons. San Francisco made a similar move a few years ago which, at the time, seemed to be a bargain when they acquired Jimmy Garoppolo. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to take that next step up. Again, as a Patriots fan, I thought he would be the heir to Tom Brady. It was sad to see Jimmy GQ traded but everything happens for a reason. Shanahan pairs Matty Ice with tight end George Kittle, a productive committee of running backs and an up-and-coming receiver core including Brandon Aiyuk. The unfortunate reality behind this trade is, the Niners don't have a boat load of cap space moving into 2021 and have quite a few free agents they may be more likely to consider inking new deals with. Many tough decisions will have to be made, including possibly trading away Jimmy G and his contract, which is about half of Ryan's. From a fantasy perspective, this trade would have me wanting all the Matt Ryan and Kittle shares I could get my hands on.
The Indianapolis Colts:
This, for me, is the best and most likely trade spot for Matt Ryan. The Colts were on track to become a Super Bowl favorite when Andrew Luck made the hard decision, at the young age of 29, to retire from the National Football League. That event left the organization plugging in quarterbacks like Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers, both who were good, but both who also just didn't bring that missing spark. Matty Ice, however, has that spark.
One of Ryan's career struggles has been below-average offensive line play. On average, Matt Ryan has been sacked twice per game or 32 times per season. The Colts' offensive line has been touted as one of the best for the last few years, allowing Jonathan Taylor to rush for 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie season. The line also allowed 39 year-old quarterback Philip Rivers to land 369 passes for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdowns. Matt Ryan is only 35 years old, with plenty of juice still in the tank and given his career of being able to sling the ball, pairing him with T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman and the aforementioned Taylor, it's a good start to a potentially nice couple of years.
Moving to the Colts would surely give Ryan a downgrade at pass catchers after working with Julio freaking Jones and Calvin Ridley. But this 2021 offseason has other free agent wide receivers I would love to see land with Matty Ice in Indy. One wide receiver that immediately comes to mind is Will Fuller. As I had previously mentioned, he's likely to end up with a team on a bargain because of his suspension. Adding Fuller to the locker room with Hilton and Pittman could be a super sneaky trio receiver core. Another name that has me licking my chops is Allen Robinson. Let's face it, A-Rob has yet to have an above average quarterback hitting him downfield. Robinson, in the last two seasons playing with Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles, has put up 1,147 and 1,250 yards, and a combined 13 touchdowns. Julio Jones numbers are not off the table with Matt Ryan.
Again, all of these scenarios are hypotheticals and there is so much I do not understand about the inner business workings of an NFL franchise. Matt Ryan has a fairly large contract - rightfully so - and each team values each player differently. For me, it's all fantasy focused, which many organizations have made clear are not part of their decision making processes. JERKS! But hey, it is fun to consider which organization is about to make a big Goff-Stafford trade and cause Twitter to explode in debate.
What is your dream scenario? Let me know on Twitter @jonmcnabb.
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