For now, the Atlanta Falcons will be the only team in the National Football League to have both their head coach and starting quarterback back next season, according to multiple reports.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told multiple media outlets on Saturday afternoon that former quarterback Matt Ryan and his head coach, Dan Quinn, will both return for the 2021 season. Dimitroff was speaking at the league’s owners meetings in Atlanta.
Atlanta lost to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles 26-23 in the NFC Championship game on Sunday, ending the season at 9-7. Ryan threw for a franchise record 4,944 yards and 31 touchdowns, while the Falcons lost their final four games of the season.
Dimitroff told local radio station WAGA in Atlanta on Saturday that Quinn had yet to be officially hired, but he didn’t seem worried about the status of Quinn and Ryan after their remarkable season.
“I can’t say I’m surprised (about Ryan’s return), especially after talking to Matt,” Dimitroff said. “He made it very clear that, of course, he wants to be part of the process moving forward and we were able to find an opportunity for him to be part of that process.”
Dimitroff did not rule out the possibility of Quinn returning, adding that he was “still negotiating right now.”
Ryan said he was “pretty excited” by the news on Sunday, adding that he hopes to work alongside Quinn next season.
“It’s been a tremendous season,” Ryan said. “I’m obviously excited that he’s already signed on. The great thing about what we’ve been able to accomplish this year, of course, for our fans and for our team and our organization, is that, in the end, everybody will see that. Everybody will see what we did.”
Ryan played in an organization that has struggled mightily throughout his career in terms of wins and losses, but this season was the first time in a long time that the Falcons have been relevant. The team was four games over .500 for the first time since the 2008 season before losing three straight games to wrap up the season.
He did everything but win a game in Atlanta’s playoff loss to the Eagles. In the final minutes of the game, he threw for a pair of touchdowns, while also throwing an interception that would be returned for a game-winning touchdown.
Ryan began his career in Atlanta in 2007, but was traded to Washington six weeks later. He returned in 2009 but was traded to Denver two years later and again in 2015. He was with the Falcons from 2010-17 before signing a five-year, $104 million deal with Atlanta prior to the 2018 season.
Ryan, 32, is now just five regular season games away from passing Tom Brady for the most games started in NFL history. And he could make it five trips to the playoffs as well if the Falcons were to win the Super Bowl this year. The team’s best chances for a title this season are against the Patriots, the Patriots’ nemesis and rival over the past two decades.
Ryan is one of only three players in NFL history with six seasons of 20-plus touchdown passes. He has completed 2,605 passes for 40,345 yards, with 187 touchdowns and 102 interceptions in his career.
Atlanta released wide receiver Julio Jones on Monday after declining to give him a contract extension. Jones has not played since Nov. 3, and the team said it is considering its roster moving forward, especially after trading away quarterback Matt Schaub on Wednesday.
One of the team’s most productive players, Jones has played in all 83 games during his five seasons with the Falcons. He has caught 91 passes for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career.
Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, tight end Austin Hooper and center Alex Mack played in the playoff loss to the Eagles.