There will be no hard feelings between the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan as they intend to acquire Deshaun Watson. That’s because the Falcons informed their all-time passing leader of their plans.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Falcons told Ryan they intended to pursue Watson before making an offer and remain in constant communication with their quarterback. The team also hasn’t restructured Ryan’s contract — which was reportedly in the process last week — as he’s set to have a cap number of $48,662,500, which is the largest salary cap hit for a player in NFL history prior to the start of the new league year.
The Falcons did meet with Watson on Wednesday in their attempt to lure him to Atlanta, one day after the Cleveland Browns met with Watson — which resulted in Baker Mayfield posting a farewell letter to Cleveland fans. ESPN also reported Mayfield learned the Watson meeting was happening over social media — and the Browns never informed him of their intent to acquire Watson.
The Falcons showed enough respect for Ryan to let him know what’s going on, even though he is coming off the fewest passing yards he’s had in a season (3,968) since 2010 and fewest passing touchdowns (20) since his rookie season in 2008.
Ryan has thrown for 59,735 passing yards in his career, the eighth-most in NFL history. He needs 4,354 yards to surpass Ben Roethlisberger for fifth in NFL history, which he could reach during the 2022 season. Ryan’s 367 passing touchdowns are ninth all time, 83 behind Aaron Rodgers for fifth. He needs just 33 touchdown passes to become the eighth player to reach 400 for his career.
While Mayfield doesn’t have the longevity as Ryan, he is also coming off a poor season. Mayfield completed 60.5% of his passes for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions (83.1 passer rating) last season. Of the 32 qualified quarterbacks, Mayfield finished 27th in completion percentage, 22nd in touchdown passes, 17th in yards per attempt (7.2), and 27th in quarterback rating.
Mayfield took a step back with the Browns this season as he battled a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder throughout the year. He ended up missing one game with the injury and another game with a knee strain. Mayfield had surgery on the torn labrum in January, ending his season once the Browns were officially eliminated from the playoffs.
The Browns quarterback didn’t have to stick with the organization through the injury and get the surgery, yet he played through the pain — and it ended up costing him his future in Cleveland. There doesn’t appear to be a path to redemption between Mayfield and the Browns, as he’ll be another quarterback available to acquire in the coming days.