- The Washington Times - Monday, March 21, 2022

The Indianapolis Colts have a new quarterback to replace Carson Wentz.

The Colts acquired veteran signal-caller Matt Ryan from the Atlanta Falcons on Monday afternoon. The Falcons received a third-round draft pick in return for the 36-year-old former MVP. 

Ryan, who has spent his entire 14-year NFL career in Atlanta and is considered the best quarterback in franchise history, will try to turn around his declining performance in Indianapolis — a recent destination for old or struggling quarterbacks. In recent years, since Andrew Luck shocked the NFL with his early retirement, the Colts went with veteran Philip Rivers in 2020 and then former Eagle Carson Wentz last season. The team made the playoffs with Rivers but lost in the Wild Card round, while last season the Colts collapsed with Wentz, losing in Week 18 to the lowly Jaguars to miss the postseason.

Wentz reportedly soured in the Indianapolis organization, and the team’s leadership chose to move on from the 29-year-old and send him to Washington for multiple Day 2 draft picks. 

Some rumors connected Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Colts after Cleveland traded three first-round picks for embattled Texans star Deshaun Watson. That trade, however, actually opened up the Ryan deal to the Colts

The Falcons were seen as the favorites to acquire Watson, but the Browns swooped in late to acquire Watson, who lifted his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland and sign a massive new contract. The Falcons’ wooing of Watson signaled the likely end of Ryan’s tenure in Atlanta, which saw the former first-round pick win the 2008 Rookie of the Year award, make four Pro Bowls and win the 2016 MVP award. In 2016, Ryan led the Falcons to the Super Bowl, but the team collapsed in the second half against New England and blew a 28-3 lead to lose in overtime. 

Ryan’s play has declined since his MVP season with play-caller Kyle Shanahan, who left after that season to become the the 49ers’ coach. In the last four years, the Falcons have compiled a 25-40 record with no winning seasons. Last season, Ryan had one of the worst statistical campaigns of his career, throwing only 20 touchdowns versus 12 interceptions in 17 games. 

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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