Falcons’ owner: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones trades not ‘off limits’

Rebuilding comes with challenging decisions, and the Atlanta Falcons are facing both in the view of owner Arthur Blank.

Blank is set to hire a new general manager and head coach for the Falcons. Atlanta has the fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft, little cap room and two massive contracts anchoring the ledger.

Quarterback Matt Ryan will count $40.9 million against the 2021 salary cap, which could be as low as $175 million. Wide receiver Julio Jones has a $23.05 million cap number.

Arthur Blank: Falcons Need ‘Sustainable’ Plan

“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 told the team’s website. “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.”

Matt Ryan, Julio Jones
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones and QB Matt Ryan. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Blank remained committed to head coach Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff, who was with the team when Ryan and Jones were drafted. But a 4-12 season led Blank to clean house. A wide-ranging roster reset could soon follow.

“I think it’s a mistake for an owner to lay out a set of dictates like that for general manager and head coach,” Blank said. “If I was a general manager or head coach considering this opportunity and I heard an owner say that, to me I’d be a little nervous because I think that’s crossing a line for me that I don’t believe an owner should ever cross.”

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)