The Indianapolis Colts are moving on from quarterback Matt Ryan after one season, according to a tweet from WSB’s Zach Klein on March 14. Ryan was scheduled to earn more than $19.2 million in 2023.
The Colts had just traded cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the afternoon before initial the reports of Ryan’s release were made public.
Cutting Ryan saves the Colts more than $17 million in cap space, according to The Indianapolis Star’s Joel A. Erickson. Combining that move with Gilmore’s trade means the Colts’ salary cap increased by $27 million in just one day.
Factors in Ryan’s Release
Ryan’s release was expected, as the quarterback finished with a 4-7-1 record and was benched twice during 2022.
The Athletic’s Zak Keefer called the move “inevitable” but said Ryan still made a positive impact during his time in Indianapolis.
“This was inevitable after last season,” Keefer tweeted. “Matt was a total pro in Indy — deeply respected by coaches + teammates.”
The 2016 NFL MVP threw for a career-low 14 touchdowns and had 18 total turnovers. As an offense, the Colts tied for second-to-last in the NFL with 17 points scored per game.
The Colts’ failures last season weren’t all because of Ryan’s struggles, however. He sprained his shoulder and also played behind an offensive line that gave up 60 sacks.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that when Ryan was traded from Atlanta to Indianapolis last offseason, his agent made sure the QB would be in a good situation if he were to be released. Since that has now happened, Ryan is set to receive millions.
“His agent negotiated a new contract that included a $12M guarantee in 2023 that was not in his previous contract,” Rapoport wrote. “Ryan remains entitled to the $12M regardless of what he decides to do this season.”
According to FOX59/CBS4’s Mike Chappell, Ryan told the media earlier this offseason that he hopes to continue playing football in 2023.
“‘I still love playing. I still love playing and still feel like, honestly, there’s a lot of good football in my body,” Ryan said.
Colts’ Future at QB
Keefer noted that 2023 will mark the seventh-straight season that the Colts will start with a different Week 1 signal caller.
The main question now is whether or not the team will select a rookie quarterback in the NFL draft.
While all signs point toward the team doing so, nothing is guaranteed during free agency. Since the Carolina Panthers traded up to acquire the No. 1 pick, rumors of the Colts picking up a veteran quarterback have picked up.
Erickson added to the discussion following Ryan’s release, noting that several veteran free agent quarterbacks have already signed this offseason but some bridge options like Marcus Mariota remain.
The Colts have even been rumored to trade for Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. Erickson said he thinks the Colts would draft a quarterback if they signed a veteran, but Jackson would be an exception.
“I don’t think any veteran quarterback signing would keep Indianapolis from drafting a QB in April,” Erickson tweeted. “The team’s been pretty open about its desire to draft a QB.
“Well, I shouldn’t say “any.” If Lamar Jackson was the veteran, that would change things.”