Falcons owner Arthur Blank weighs in on future of QB Matt Ryan, WR Calvin Ridley
“We like the youngster,” Blank said via the team’s website. “He had a great story in Atlanta. We’d love for him to stay in Atlanta. Whether he wants to do that or not, he can decide he wants a fresh start somewhere else. We don’t know. I don’t know. I have no information to indicate it, but we will see how it goes.
“We’ve been totally supported in every way possible, both emotionally and financially, working with him as well as his agent. We’ll see, but I’m mostly concerned about him as a human being.”
Ridley, 27, is under contract with the Falcons for one more season and was in a prime position to fill the No. 1 receiver spot vacated by the departure of Julio Jones. After a career season in 2020, Ridley had high hopes for 2021, but only played five games.
On Wednesday, Blank pointed out what general manager Terry Fontenot relayed in January that nothing had changed and there was no update on Ridley’s situation. The Falcons supported Ridley in 2021 and, according to Blank’s account, will support him in the future, whether with them or with another team.
As for Ryan, who has been pitching at Ridley for four seasons, he is entering his 14th season in the NFL and has two years left on his contract, but with the team likely in the midst of a rebuild, there will certainly be some turmoil — as was the case last year — about the Falcons leaving the veteran and starting over with a fresh-faced QB, possibly via the draft.
Blank would rather move from four-time Pro Bowler to the franchise’s next QB, likely allowing the latter to show up before Ryan moves on.
“Big franchises are good at transitioning from quarterback to quarterback,” Blank said. “We want to make sure we focus on the same thing. The coach understands that, and so does our chief executive.”
Regardless of what happens in the draft or elsewhere, Blank has endorsed Ryan’s No. 14 season with the franchise.
“(Ryan) loves the game. He loves the Falcons. He loves the city and he wants to stay here,” Blank said. “It’s a decision that the coach and general manager will make. But we have no reason to believe he won’t continue to play quarterback for us.”
In his first year under head coach Arthur Smith, Ryan threw for 3,968 yards (his least since 2010) and 20 touchdowns (his least since 2017) as Atlanta went 7-10. The stats probably don’t tell an accurate story, as you could say the 36-year-old did what he could with a limited roster, helping rookie Kyle Pitts and running back/receiver Cordarrelle Patterson to solid seasons. , but struggling overall behind a problematic offensive line and with few options on the outside.
Blank knows Ryan will hang up someday, but that day isn’t tomorrow and he’s on board with his gunslinger heading into the sunset on his terms, it seems.
“At some point there will be a sunset for him, but I really can’t tell you exactly because I really don’t know,” he said.