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NFL - US Sports: Ryan to Colts as Falcons begin rebuild

Quarterback Matt Ryan's time in Atlanta came to an abrupt end on Monday when the 14-year Falcons starter was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a third-round pick in this year's draft.

The Colts, 12/1 to win the AFC title this season, had been on the lookout for a new veteran QB since trading Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders and were alerted to Ryan's availability when Atlanta began their unsuccessful pursuit of Deshaun Watson.

Room to wriggle with salary cap

The Colts will be taking on a $24.7 million salary-cap hit, according to Over The Cap, but they led the league in salary-cap space before the trade for Ryan.

The trade saves the Falcons roughly $9 million in cap space, but also forces the NFC South team to carry over $40 million in dead cap for the 2022 season.

Ryan's ability has never been in question and even though 2021 marked his first sub-4,000-yard season since 2010, he only finished 32 yards shy of the mark while posting a 20-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio with an offense that had relatively few pass-catching weapons.

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Rebuild in Atlanta

A huge rebuild now looks to be on the cards in Atlanta with clues over the Falcons' future thinking emerging at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis earlier this month.

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot were non-committal when it came to Ryan in 2022 with Smith going as far as telling reporters a potential Ryan trade "depends on what the offer is."

"It's like the old Don Corleone: They give you an offer you can't refuse, I think you've gotta take it," said the Falcons coach.

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