ESPN Unfurls 2022 Broncos Trade Scenario for Falcons QB Matt Ryan

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Should the Denver Broncos lose the upcoming Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson sweepstakes, their quarterback consolation prize could be a former NFL MVP.

Exploring a 2022 scenario in which Rodgers and Wilson remain with the Packers and Seahawks, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell predicted the Broncos will trade a 2023 first-round pick (post-June 1) to the Atlanta Falcons for five-time Pro Bowl passer Matt Ryan.

“Landing on Ryan would be a fallback plan for the Broncos, who might think they’re Super Bowl contenders with a good quarterback,” Barnwell wrote last week. “For cap reasons, the Falcons probably have to wait to make this trade until after June 1, when they can spread the $40.5 million in dead money they’ll create with a Ryan deal over the 2022 and 2023 caps. With that being the case, Denver can’t trade its 2022 first-rounder. If Ryan were dealt before June 1 for picks in the 2022 draft, he would more likely fetch a pick in the 33-to-42 range.”

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The No. 3 overall choice of the 2008 draft, Ryan has thrown for more than 59,000 passing yards, 366 touchdowns, and 169 interceptions across 220 career starts — all with Atlanta. The 36-year-old continues to perform at a relatively high level, completing 67.9% of his passes for 3,555 yards, 19 TDs, and 11 INTs through 15 appearances in 2021.

As with any potential QB acquisition, the salary cap will be a factor. Ryan signed a five-year, $150 million contract extension in 2018. There is no guaranteed money left on his deal, per, but he has monstrous cap figures of $48.6 million and $43.6 million for 2022 and 2023, his age-38 campaign.

The Broncos are estimated to have nearly $50 million of available cap space next offseason, enough to absorb Ryan’s financial commitment. If this scenario plays out, with a trade executed after June 1 (and a wink-wink agreement well before), the team likely moves on from incumbent starter Teddy Bridgewater, a pending unrestricted free agent, while perhaps retaining Drew Lock in a developmental backup capacity.

Lock is currently the only Broncos QB under contract for 2022, as third-stringer Brett Rypien is ticketed for exclusive-rights free agency in March.

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