The Atlanta Falcons are set to enter a new phase, with the upcoming hire of a new general manager and head coach. That may or may not include Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
The quarterback and wide receiver have been staples of the franchise. Ryan was the No. 3 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, and won the MVP was named a First-Team All-Pro in 2016. Julio Jones was taken at No. 6 three years later, and is a five-time All-Pro, with two First-Team selections.
The Falcons officially have the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. With the quarterback class looking potentially historic, there will definitely be temptation for the team to look for Ryan’s heir apparent at the position. Owner Arthur Blank acknowledged that the two franchise greats may not be in the long term plans moving forward.
“What I think is important, most important, is that we hire people who are, number one, the very best at their jobs,” he said to AtlantaFalcons.com. “That goes without saying. Who will come forward with a plan for us to have a championship team, a competitive team, et cetera. And that may include Matt and Julio for now, for the next two years, three years, or may not. I have no idea.”
Arthur Blank was asked about the future of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in Atlanta.
His response 👇 pic.twitter.com/I2Co5CgEKd
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 4, 2021
“You cannot hire the very best people you can hire, whether it be general managers or head coaches, and then tie their hands and tell them, well, this person is off limits and that one is off limits and that one,” Blank said. “What you’re asking them for, which is not off limits and needs to be probed deeply, do they have a championship plan, do they have a plan on turning around the franchise sooner rather than later so we’re winning in 2021?
“Do we have a plan that’s sustainable over a long period of time so we can make sure this team is competitive not just for the next year or two but over a longer period of time than that? … However that affects certain players, it affects certain players.”
It’s a very frank statement from the Atlanta Falcons owner, but clearly the stakes have been made known.
Since that 2016 run to the Super Bowl, the Falcons are just 28-36, with one playoff appearance.