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Matt Ryan’s contract is the main reason he won’t play for the Colts again this year

Mike Florio and Chris Simms assess Frank Reich’s announcement that Sam Ehlinger will start at QB for the remainder of the season and explain how the Colts' system exposed Matt Ryan’s weaknesses.

Sam Ehlinger officially becomes the starting quarterback of the Colts. If he fails or gets injured, Nick Foles will take over. And if Foles gets injured, the quarterback will be anyone but Matt Ryan.

Ryan is done. He’s out. He won’t play again, for reasons rooted in his contract. Put simply, once the team decided (and it was clear from coach Frank Reich’s comments that owner Jim Irsay made the decision) that Ryan won’t be the quarterback in 2023, it was time to pull the plug on 2022.

Ryan’s contract already pays him $12 million in base salary next year, fully guaranteed. But millions more would become fully guaranteed if Ryan suffers an injury that keeps him from passing a physical by the third day of the 2023 league year in March, when the payments that are currently guaranteed for injury become fully guaranteed.

Specifically, Ryan has $7.205 million in additional 2023 salary guaranteed for injury, and a 2023 roster bonus of $10 million, which is also guaranteed for injury. That’s $17.205 million that the Colts would potentially owe Ryan (in addition to the $12 million) if he emerges from the 2022 season with an injury that prevents him from passing a physical by the middle of March.

That’s why Ryan won’t be playing again for the Colts in 2022. He could, in theory, be traded before next Tuesday. His performances through seven weeks of the current season, however, will surely cause any/every team to shy away from Ryan and his contract, regardless of whether a starter suffers a season-ending injury this weekend.

The question then becomes whether the Colts would cut Ryan after the trade deadline. He may ask to be released. The Colts may wait for the right moment to dump him, thinking that a potential quarterback-needy team may claim his contract on waivers.

Again, it’s unlikely. He is, by all appearances, done. No every quarterback will have his arm beyond his fortieth birthday. For the 37-year-old Ryan, too many of his throws now look like what John Madden used to call the last shot out of a Roman candle.

Ryan has had a great career. He was an MVP. He did everything in his power to win a Super Bowl. He recently passed Dan Marino to become No. 7 on the all-time passing yardage list.

Matt Ryan has a solid case for Canton. At this point, however, continuing to play could eventually hurt his cause. And so, as it was when the Vikings benched Donovan McNabb for Christian Ponder in 2011 and later released McNabb, it may simply be over for Ryan.

Even if it is, he’ll still make $12 million next year to not play pro football. The Colts, at this point, are simply hoping to be sure he doesn’t get $17.205 million more.