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Matt Ryan signs one-day contract with Falcons to announce retirement

Matt Ryan is hanging up his cleats, but not before returning to where he started his NFL career.

The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback announced his retirement Monday, making it official after signing a one-day contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

“Today, 16 years after being drafted, my childhood dream officially came to an end. I am honored to retire as a Falcon,” Ryan said in a social media video, which showed him writing a message to Falcons fans.

Ryan spent the majority of his career with the Falcons, helping the franchise reach new levels of success after they selected him with the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. He led Atlanta to the playoffs as a rookie, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Ryan quickly became one of the best quarterbacks in the game soon after, taking the Falcons to the playoffs in three straight seasons (2010-12), earning two Pro Bowl nods during that stretch.

After a three-year playoff drought, Ryan had the best season of his career in 2016. He threw for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a passer rating of 117.1 in the regular season to win the MVP title. This success continued in the postseason, where Ryan led Atlanta to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1998.

Ryan and the Falcons’ dream season ended in disaster in Super Bowl LI. They blew a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots as the Falcons failed to score on their final four drives before losing in overtime.

The Falcons returned to the playoffs in 2017 thanks to another good season from Ryan, but that was the last time the team played in the playoffs with him at quarterback. Ryan still had solid seasons over the next four years, but they didn’t produce many wins, going 25-39 in the starts he made between 2018 and 2021.

Ryan’s time in Atlanta ended during the 2022 offseason after the Falcons’ failed pursuit of Deshaun Watson became public. He was then traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round draft pick. Ryan and the Colts struggled, going 4-7-1 in games he started and being benched late in the season.

The Colts released Ryan during the 2023 offseason. While he still hoped to play, Ryan joined CBS as an announcer for the 2023 NFL season.

Ryan retires seventh all-time in passing yards (62,792) and ninth in passing touchdowns (381).

“In this profession, you have no control over where you start,” Ryan said. “I’m so lucky that my start and finish was here in Atlanta.”

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