Atlanta Falcons

Who Will Replace Matt Ryan as the Falcons' Starting Quarterback?

The Falcons traded Ryan to the Colts on Monday


The Atlanta Falcons are about to enter a new era.

The Falcons on Monday traded quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick. 

The deal brings an end to a 14-year partnership between Ryan and the Falcons. Atlanta selected Ryan No. 3 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft, and the quarterback led the franchise to six postseason appearances, which included a run to Super Bowl LI.

Now, in the 2022 NFL season, the Falcons will have a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2007. But exactly who will be under center for Atlanta come Week 1?

Who are the quarterbacks on the Atlanta Falcons’ roster?

Just hours after trading away Ryan, the Falcons signed veteran Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal worth a reported $18.75 million.

Mariota made 61 starts with the Tennessee Titans from 2015-19, sporting a 29-32 record, before joining the Raiders in the 2019 offseason. The former No. 2 overall pick didn’t start a single game with the Raiders over his two seasons with the team, appearing in 11 total games and throwing a combined 30 passes as Derek Carr’s backup. 

Mariota and Falcons head coach Arthur Smith have some familiarity from their days together with the Titans. Smith was the tight ends coach when Mariota first arrived in Tennessee and the offensive coordinator in the quarterback’s final season there in 2019. Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill during that 2019 season.

Feleipe Franks is the only other signal caller on Atlanta’s roster. Franks went undrafted out of Arkansas in 2021. He did appear in nine games for Atlanta last season but didn’t attempt a pass, rushing three times for six yards.

So, as of now, Mariota appears to be the favorite to be the Falcons’ new starter. But some more competition could be on the way …

Will the Atlanta Falcons pick a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Atlanta selecting a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft certainly can’t be ruled out. 

The Falcons own the No. 8 overall pick in next month’s draft and they could even have their pick of the QB litter by the time they’re on the clock. The Carolina Panthers (No. 6 overall) currently seem to be the only real threat ahead of Atlanta to take a signal caller, while the Minnesota Vikings (No. 12) and Philadelphia Eagles (Nos. 15, 16 and 19) are lurking as potential trade-up threats.

So there’s a chance all three of Liberty’s Malik Willis, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral will be on the board for Atlanta at No. 8. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s latest mock draft has the Falcons selecting Pickett over Willis and Corral.

And if the Falcons aren’t in love with any of the quarterbacks at the top of the draft, they could always nab one in the second round. Atlanta holds pick Nos. 43 and 58 in Round 2, making North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder and Nevada’s Carson Strong possible targets.

Will the Atlanta Falcons trade for Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo?

While the Falcons fell short in their bid to land Deshaun Watson, there are still two more veteran quarterbacks on the trading block in Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo. The Browns need to find a new home for Mayfield after acquiring Watson, while Trey Lance is waiting in the wings as the 49ers’ quarterback of the future.

Following the Matt Ryan trade, ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported that Atlanta would not be pursuing Mayfield.

The Falcons haven’t been connected to Jimmy G, either. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport believes the 49ers could even bring back Garoppolo next season, saying he doesn’t see a landing spot for the quarterback. Garroppolo is entering the final year of his deal, carrying a $26.95 million cap hit for 2022.

Who will be the Atlanta Falcons’ starting quarterback for the 2022 NFL season?

The Falcons’ quarterback plan for the 2022 season will become much clearer following the draft. Should Atlanta decide to take a quarterback in the first few rounds, the rookie would probably compete with Mariota for the starting job in training camp.

If the Falcons opt not to select a signal caller, then Mariota would be in line to take over as a stop-gap quarterback in 2022 ahead of what’s projected to be a much stronger quarterback class in the 2023 draft.

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