Released by the Colts in March following his lone season in Indianapolis after spending 14 seasons as the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan has joined the team at CBS Sports and will work as both a studio and game analyst during the network’s coverage of the NFL. It is notable that Ryan, pro football’s Most Valuable Player in 2016, will be covering the NFL because he has not officially retired from the league — with good reason.
Were Ryan to file his retirement papers with the NFL, he’d be forfeiting the $12 million in guaranteed cash that the Colts, who saved themselves a $17 million payout by cutting the 38-year-old in March, still owe him. That’s why Ryan was quick to point out that he was not retiring from the NFL in his social media post about joining CBS.
That’s also why he made sure to mention he was still open to returning to the league in a subsequent interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier this week. “I don’t know,” Ryan said when asked what might get him to return. “This situation, all the stars would have to [align]. I’ve just learned, at least during my experience in the 15 years I’ve played, to just not shut any doors. That’s really the decision behind that…I’m excited to kind of take this next step and to move forward, but at the same time, you never know what’s going to happen in this league. Anything could shake out, and so we’ll see what happens.”
What will likely happen is that Ryan will get comfortable in the broadcast booth and never set foot on a football field again. Although there have been a few instances of players going back to the league after trying their hand at broadcasting — Jason Witten and Rob Gronkowski come to mind — most guys get cushy TV jobs and never look back.
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It’s also unclear if Ryan, Atlanta’s all-time leader in passing yards (59,735), touchdown passes (367), completions (5,242) and size of Super Bowl leads blown (28-3), has much good football left in him as he had a career-high 15 fumbles last season to go along with 13 interceptions.
Currently in the NFL’s all-time top 10 in career passing yards (seventh, 62,792) and touchdown passes (ninth, 381), Ryan probably has a shot at getting into Canton despite being most remembered for losing the Super Bowl as opposed to winning it. “Matt Ryan won’t be forgotten by history,” ESPN wrote. “He might even end up in the Hall of Fame. But he worked his life to transcend the chasm between very, very good and great and ended up as an exemplar of the chasm itself.”