Maybe this is why Tom Brady returned.
On Monday, the Atlanta Falcons traded Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts for a third round pick. Ryan, 37 this upcoming season, has played with the Falcons since 2008. The 2016 NFL MVP was less effective in recent years, as all of Atlanta’s team seemed to be, but he was headed for being one of the top remaining quarterbacks in the NFC.
No longer. And he won’t be the last starter to leave his current NFC team.
Following Russell Wilson’s trade to the Denver Broncos, the top-five NFC quarterbacks in terms of 2021 passer rating are Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Brady. The next two, Kyler Murray and Jimmy Garoppolo, are in precarious positions with their current NFC West teams.
Despite AFC's obvious advantage at QB, the NFC had 8 of the top 9 players in passer rating in 2021. And none of them were Matt Ryan. pic.twitter.com/mni3dj2AfL— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) March 21, 2022
Murray is holding out for a contract extension despite only playing three seasons, never winning a playoff game, and obviously showing signs of decline without DeAndre Hopkins in 2021.
Garoppolo is guaranteed to be traded or released by the San Francisco 49ers at some point.
This leaves Rodgers, Brady, Stafford, Prescott, and Cousins as the top-five most experienced and respected in the NFC. Of course, Brady is 45, Rodgers is 39, and Prescott/Cousins have a combined career playoff record of 2-5.
That’s half as many playoff wins as what Stafford had last season with the Rams.
Ryan’s trade to the Colts leaves Atlanta without a starting quarterback, as Josh Rosen (RFA) and Feleipe Franks move up a peg. (The Falcons signed Marcus Mariota after the trade.) Could they be trading for Baker Mayfield? It seems as though Mayfield was not that attractive when Atlanta was pushing so hard to trade for Deshaun Watson, otherwise why wouldn’t the Browns have already flipped him there?
With Brady back in the fold, it seems the Falcons are back to rebuilding mode.
The Rams’ position in the NFC may have gotten that much more solidified with this latest QB conference switch.