Matt Ryan is a divisive subject among Atlanta Falcons fans, but is it purely because of his performance? Maybe not.
When it comes to the top quarterbacks the Atlanta Falcons have had in their history, Michael Vick and Matt Ryan are going to be at the peak of nearly everyone’s list.
Because of his longevity – 13 seasons and counting – Ryan dominates virtually every major passing category in franchise history. His 55,767 career yards more than doubles No. 2 Steve Bartkowski with 23,470.
He’s thrown 347 touchdowns as a Falcon. Bartkowski is next on the list with 154, and then way off in the distance in third, Chris Miller and Chris Chandler are tied with 87.
It’s not just the accumulation of numbers, though. Ryan’s interception ratio of 2.1% is the best in franchise history.
He’s been remarkably durable, only missing three starts in his career. Ryan is a four-time pro-bowler and NFL MVP in 2016.
Some forget what the quarterback play in Atlanta was like before the turn of the century. But the above numbers? Lots to love there.
So why is there so much disdain for one of the franchise’s greatest-ever players?
One simple reason is the lack of a championship in his tenure. That fact alone puts him in company with every other quarterback that’s ever played for Atlanta as the Falcons have never won the Super Bowl.
Only Chris Chandler and Ryan have led the Falcons to the Super Bowl, and most Atlanta Falcons fans either try and forget 2016, or place a lot of the blame for that debacle at his feet.
But maybe the main reason for the distain … or even “sports hatred’ … is financial.
Ryan is paid as one of the premier players in the NFL.
According to Spotrac, Ryan will in 2021 earn the 10th most money of any player in the NFL. His cap hit places him fourth behind Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Kirk Cousins.
His dead cap number, the amount he would count against the salary cap if he were to be moved, is sixth in the NFL at $65.4 mil. That number makes him impossible to trade or release even though he’s 36 this season … coming three consecutive losing years.
No matter what financial metric is used, Ryan is paid like a top-10 player in the NFL. Currently, he’s not making a lot of preseason top-10 quarterback lists, let alone top overall players.
READ MORE: Is Matt Ryan a Top 10 NFL QB?
When a player is getting top-10 money, fans expect a top-10 player. The Falcons haven’t gotten that out of Ryan since arguably 2018 when he had 35 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, but the team finished 7-9.
As the team has faltered the last three seasons, the backlash against Ryan has increased. He can’t be blamed for taking the $150 million contract that was offered to him in 2018, but the team has not gotten a good return on the investment, and Ryan is facing the brunt of the fans’ frustration.
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