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Falcons call trade of Matt Ryan best decision for their long-term future

Chris Simms offers his immediate reaction to the news that Matt Ryan is headed to Indianapolis, from what this means for the Colts' chances in the AFC to whether the Falcons will target a QB in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Thirteen minutes after the Falcons announced a two-year contract agreement with free agent quarterback Marcus Mariota they announced the trade of Matt Ryan to the Colts. Atlanta will receive a third-round choice in the 2022 draft.

“I’ve got so much respect for Matt Ryan and what he’s meant to this franchise and to me personally in our one year together,” coach Arthur Smith said in a statement. “Matt was the ultimate professional and teammate every day. I’m thankful for our time together and wish he and his family the best as they transition to the next chapter of his professional journey.

“As we’ve said since we’ve started, we’re always evaluating and looking for opportunities to improve our team for the long term. This move is another step in that, and we’re looking forward to the future.”

The Falcons selected Ryan with the third overall choice in 2008. In 14 seasons in Atlanta, Ryan set franchise bests by completing 5,242 of 8,003 pass attempts (65.5 percent) for 59,735 yards with 367 touchdowns and a 94.2 passer rating.

He was named offensive rookie of the year in 2008 and won the league MVP award in 2016.

Ryan ranks eighth in NFL history in passing yards and ninth in passing touchdowns.

“Matt Ryan has been the epitome of a franchise quarterback during his time here in Atlanta,” owner Arthur Blank said. “He has represented this organization with great class, professionalism and leadership, both on and off the field, over the past 14 years. It is difficult to overstate what he has meant to me personally, our organization, his teammates and our fans. From his first day in the building, Matt has given his all in the pursuit of winning a championship for Atlanta. His arrival in 2008 instantly made us a contender in the NFC, and he’s been our quarterback through the most successful era in Falcons history. Matt . . . is without question one of the greatest players in Falcons history. He will one day be added to our Ring of Honor, and it is my belief that a bust in Canton will follow in short order.

“This business is not without its difficult decisions, and while this is one of the most difficult decisions we have faced as a club, we feel it is in the best long-term interests of both the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan.”