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Matt Ryan: If Falcons hadn’t pursued Deshaun Watson, “pretty good chance” I’d still be there

Mike Florio and Chris Simms discuss the Atlanta Falcons' decision to select Desmond Ridder over higher-ranked prospects Matt Corral and Malik Willis.

When the offseason started, it looked like Matt Ryan was poised to stay the Falcons quarterback for at least 2022 — if not longer.

But then Atlanta elected to pursue Deshaun Watson.

That changed things for Ryan with the organization, as he detailed on the most recent episode of the Ryen Russillo podcast. While things seemed status quo at the end of the regular season, that changed in March. And that’s when Ryan requested, as he put it, the opportunity to look into his options.

“When free agency starts to pick up and they start to look into what they want to do, I kind of got filled into the loop that they were going to look into Deshaun Watson,” Ryan said. “And then at that point, I said, OK, I understand. But I also need to look into what I need to look into. And if this doesn’t go down, find out if this is probably still the best fit for me.

“And as that week went on and just kind of looked into, on my end, what might be the best possible landing spot, or what was best for myself and my family moving forward, as we did that research, to me, it became one spot. And you never know, though, in that situation whether or not that one spot is also going to feel the same way about you. And for me, fortunately, they did. And they have the belief in me and what I can bring to this team. So, from that standpoint, I think it worked out perfectly on my end.”

Obviously, Watson didn’t choose the Falcons. But Ryan still ended up a Colt. So Russillo then asked Ryan if he thought he would still be a Falcon if the organization had not aggressively pursued Watson.

“Had none of this gone down? There’s probably a chance — a pretty good chance,” Ryan said. “But it did, you know? So when it does, when the situations change and the circumstances change… You know, I had always thought, like everybody, when you’re drafted there, and you play there, this is where I’m going to play my entire career. For 14 years, every day I woke up, it was to try and help the Falcons win a championship. And that had been reciprocated on the other end for me. And so when that changed, I had to look into it.

“It’s certainly been a big change, for sure. But a good one. And so, it’s hard to say. But I think honestly, it’s more than likely I probably would’ve still been there had circumstances been different. But I’m excited with where I’m at.”

Ryan now has a chance to help lead the Colts to an AFC South title in 2022, which would be their first since 2014.