The Indianapolis Colts are the big winners of the Matt Ryan deal, but it also signals an easy campaign ahead for there Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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While any idea the Atlanta Falcons may have had about winning the NFC South seemed far-fetched before Monday afternoon, it became hilarious once they traded franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2022 third-round pick.
With Atlanta now in a complete rebuild, the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers are the only other teams capable of keeping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from winning their second straight division title. And considering those two teams are currently slated to start Taysom Hill and Sam Darnold at quarterback, respectively, there’s no race to be had.
Once Tom Brady decided to come out of retirement on March 13, the Buccaneers became overwhelming favorites and have only strengthened their grip on the position in recent weeks.
Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht talked about what Brady’s return meant to the team, especially in terms of retaining some its big-name free agents, including corner Carlton Davis and center Ryan Jensen. Per NFL.com:
“Well, it certainly helped. When you have a player like Tom, who’s the greatest quarterback of all-time, if not player, players want to play with a guy like that. So, it certainly helped, I can’t lie. We’ve got the ultimate cheat code with Tom. So, we’re going to take advantage of it while we have it. I think players like it here, regardless. But, having a player like that throwing the ball to them, or even being on the other side of the ball knowing that he’s your quarterback, it certainly helps.”
Provided Brady stays healthy for even a majority of the year — something he’s always done for every campaign of his career save 2008 — Tampa Bay will have the division wrapped up quickly. Hell, Thanksgiving could be seen as a real goal.
The hidden advantage in all this is the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. While the Green Bay Packers also have a bad division, the Minnesota Vikings are at least respectable. There’s no such issue for the Bucs, who might have the worst trio of divisional foes any contender has had to face in some time. Well, maybe since Brady’s New England Patriots for so many years in the AFC East.
On Monday, the Falcons traded Matt Ryan, and any sliver of hope the NFC South had of a run at the Bucs went with him.