Matt Ryan says he loves Atlanta, not worried about future

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

Matt Ryan has watched Joe Montana, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady switch teams, so he knows there’s a possibility he won’t finish his career with the Atlanta Falcons.

Save that speculation for talk shows and columns. Ryan is too focused on this season and too smart to say otherwise.

“The one thing in our league is that nothing is a given, right?” Ryan said on the AP Pro Football Podcast. “And so change is constant. I love Atlanta. I have loved being here for 14 years. I’m excited about the coaching staff and the front office we brought in here. And, I still have a number of years left on my contract, so I feel really good about that.

“But, when you’re asked about four or five years down the line, there’s just no telling. And so with that in mind, I don’t worry about it. I worry about right now and trying to be the best version of myself right now.”

Ryan is signed through 2023 with a restructured deal that raised his salary cap number to $48.6 million in 2022 and $43.6 million in 2023. The Falcons made it clear they’re fine rebuilding with their 36-year-old QB when they used the No. 4 overall pick on tight end Kyle Pitts instead of quarterbacks Justin Fields or Mac Jones.

It’s been a rough start and Ryan is determined to turn things around when the Falcons (0-2) visit the New York Giants (0-2) on Sunday. Last week, Ryan got a close look at the 44-year-old Brady tossing five TDs in Atlanta’s 45-28 loss to Tampa Bay. Ryan rallied the Falcons in the third quarter before two tipped balls were returned for scores.

“You definitely draw inspiration,” Ryan said about Brady. “It’s impressive to watch him. He looks as good as ever. He’s taken great care of himself. He’s really disciplined and committed to what he’s doing and has belief in what he’s doing. And, I sit at the same spot. I feel like my body feels really good. I’m in a great space. I want to compete, know the drive, and my energy is as good as it’s ever been. I’m enjoying what I’m doing and want to win and I want to continue to win. And so I’d love to do this for as long as I can.”

Ryan, who just broke Drew Brees’ NFL record for most yards passing through 14 seasons, was NFL MVP in 2016 in his second season playing in former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He’s excited about growing in new coach Arthur Smith’s system.

“It takes time to get a feel for a coach as a play caller and what the weekly routine is like, what they install on Wednesdays and Thursdays and just getting into the flow of that,” Ryan said. “I also think that it takes time to get a feel for him situationally, how his brain works, what he’s trying to do. I feel like we’ve been on the same page a lot early on this season and been in a good spot. I think we’re going to make strides as the year goes on. I’m confident that will continue to improve.

“But I think the thing I like about him best is just he’s got a plan of where he wants to take this offense, being physical and running the football moving forward. We’re probably not there yet, but we’re working toward it. And, his self-belief and belief in the vision of what he wants for us moving forward is the thing I like the best.”

Though he plans to keep playing for several more years, Ryan is an avid golfer so his future retirement plans include plenty of days on the course. Matty Ice doesn’t like to look like a typical golfer when he hits the links so he has partnered with the lifestyle and performance apparel brand TravisMathew.

Recently, Ryan helped TravisMathew launch its first Eco Collection, a line of sustainable clothes made partially from recycled water bottles. From now until Dec. 15, the company will donate 100% of profits from the Eco Collection to the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves, and beaches.

“I love playing golf during the offseason but I hate looking like a golfer all the time,” Ryan said. “I really like them because it’s really casual. You can wear it to the golf course, play golf, but I have no problem going to the bar afterward, going to dinner with your family and having a nice meal and looking presentable.”

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