Matt Ryan retires: 'Honored' to do so as a Falcon



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After 15 seasons, four Pro Bowls and a Most Valuable Player award, former Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan announced his retirement Monday, officially ending the career of one of the most durable and consistent players of his generation.

Ryan made the announcement in a video statement posted to social media by the Falcons.

“So today, 16 years after being drafted, my childhood dream has officially come to an end. I’m honored to retire as a Falcon,” he said.

He added, “You have no control in this profession in where you start. I am so lucky that my start and my finish was here in Atlanta.”

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, in a statement released Monday, said he firmly believes Ryan should be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “and I look forward to that day.”

During a news conference Monday, Blank added, “This is an exceptional football player, but probably more exceptional as a human being, as a husband, as a father, as a great friend. He’s been a beloved friend to me during that period of time. … He’s one of our own and he’s certainly one of Atlanta’s own.”

Ryan said during the news conference that it’s an honor to be mentioned among the best athletes to compete in Atlanta, including Dominique Wilkins, Chipper Jones and “name any pitcher from the Braves.”

“To be part of that conversation is special to me,” he said.

Ryan, 38, started all 234 games he played during his career, including every game for the Falcons from 2010 until Oct. 27, 2019, when he missed a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks because of an ankle injury.

In all, he missed just three games in Atlanta, where he became the team’s all-time leader in almost every passing category.

Ryan led the NFL in completions twice (2019, 2020), attempts once (2020) and completion percentage once (2012). In his career, he completed 65.6% of his passes for 62,792 yards, 381 touchdowns and 183 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 93.6.

He finished his career fifth in NFL history in completions (5,551) and attempts (8,464), seventh in yards, ninth in touchdowns, eighth in passing yards per game (268.3), ninth in sacks taken (488) and 39th in interceptions.

Ryan’s 46 game-winning drives are sixth in NFL history — two ahead of his good friend Matthew Stafford, who becomes the active leader in game-winning drives with 44. Ryan’s 38 career fourth-quarter comebacks are fourth of all time, trailing just Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger — and three more than the new active leader, Stafford.

Each season from 2011 to 2020, Ryan completed at least 61% of his passes for over 4,000 yards and at least 20 touchdowns. In 2021, his last year in Atlanta, he held up two of those marks, completing 67% of his passes and throwing 20 touchdowns, but missed the 4,000-yard mark by 32 yards.

The Falcons opened up the possibility of trading Ryan in March 2022 when the team pursued a Deshaun Watson swap. Watson was eventually dealt to Cleveland, but in pursuing him the Falcons also discussed moving on from Ryan — allowing him to seek out potential trade candidates. General manager Terry Fontenot said after the Falcons eventually traded Ryan that they wanted the veteran quarterback to be involved in those discussions “because he deserves that. He’s earned the right to be involved in that.”

The landing spot ended up being Indianapolis, where Ryan was traded for a third-round pick in the 2022 draft. Ryan started 12 games for the Colts in 2022 in what ended up being his final playing season in the NFL, completing 67% of his passes for 3,057 yards and 14 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.

Indianapolis released Ryan in March 2023, and last season he became an in-game analyst for CBS Sports.

Ryan’s best year came in 2016, when he led Atlanta to the Super Bowl. He was named the league’s MVP and a first-team All-Pro after racking up career-highs of 4,944 yards, a 69.9% completion rate and 38 touchdowns. He led the NFL in passer rating (117.1) and QBR (79.6) that season.

By then, Ryan had become a mainstay in Atlanta after being picked No. 3 in the 2008 draft out of Boston College. Atlanta was seeking a stabilizing presence at the position after three quarterbacks — Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich — started games during a 2007 season marked by the suspension of Michael Vick on dogfighting charges and the 13-game tenure of coach Bobby Petrino, who told Falcons players of his resignation in a letter as he jumped to college football at Arkansas.

Ryan was the first draft pick of new head coach Mike Smith, who ended up becoming the franchise’s coaching leader in wins (66).

Ryan finished his first season earning 44 of 50 votes to become the Offensive Rookie of the Year, completing 61.1% of his passes for 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while leading the Falcons to the first of his six playoff seasons in Atlanta. He led the team to one Super Bowl — a 34-28 loss to New England on Feb. 5, 2017 — and one other NFC Championship Game.

Ryan said Monday of the Super Bowl loss during which the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, “It hurts.”

“It’s one of the things, I think that’s always a part of you. Falling short of what you ultimately set out to do is tough. But that’s life. There’s so many things in your life that are gonna go that way. You’ve got to pick up and move on,” he said.

In the postseason, Ryan completed 67.5% of his passes for 2,672 yards, 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He played his last five postseason games without throwing a pick.

Ryan ended up as Atlanta’s career leader in wins (120), passing yards (59,735), touchdowns (367), completions (5,242) and attempts (8,003). His 65.5% completion rate with Atlanta is the highest among quarterbacks who started more than one season for the franchise.

ESPN’s Marc Raimondi contributed to this report.





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