Matt Ryan officially retires from the NFL; let the Hall of Fame debate begin

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Matt Ryan officially retires from the NFL; let the Hall of Fame debate begin

Matt Ryan, the most decorated quarterback in Atlanta Falcons history, announced his retirement on Monday, officially ending an NFL career that lasted 14 years and totaled more than 65,000 passing yards.

Ryan was the No. 3 pick of the 2008 NFL Draft and almost immediately energized a franchise that hadn’t had a winning season in the previous three years. He started every game of his rookie season, led the Falcons to a playoff berth and was honored as the league’s offensive rookie of the year.

Ryan made 232 starts for the Falcons and five more playoff appearances, the most notable being in 2016 when Atlanta advanced to the Super Bowl, falling 34-28 in overtime after building a 28-3 lead.

Atlanta traded Ryan to Indianapolis for a third-round draft pick before the 2022 season and Ryan started 12 games for the Colts. He spent the 2023 season as an analyst for CBS Sports, although he left open the possibility of a return to the field if a team called. By waiting a year to retire, he guaranteed himself $12 million from the Colts last season.

Now that his retirement is official, it opens up the debate about whether the Pennsylvania native will eventually be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Players become eligible for induction five years after their retirement. Ryan’s 62,792 regular-season passing yards rank seventh in NFL history. He is ninth all time in passing touchdowns with 381.

Ryan was selected to four Pro Bowls and was named the league’s 2016 MVP after throwing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns that season. Falcons owner Arthur Blank said before the 2023 season that Ryan would be welcome to return to the organization in some capacity whenever he was ready.

“I had a really great relationship with Mr. Blank. He’s been so instrumental in my life and my families’ lives,” Ryan said last year. “He’s got great relationships with my kids. I have great relationships with his kids and his family. He’s great to my parents. There’s nothing but love there for all that he has done for me.”

Ryan earned $306.2 million in his NFL career. Only Aaron Rodgers ($343.5 million), Matthew Stafford ($328 million) and Tom Brady ($317.6 million) have made more. Ryan earned $36.7 million from the Colts over the last two seasons.

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(Photo: Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images)