Matt Ryan is aware he could end up in a situation similar to another NFL MVP in the not-so-distant future, and he's not loading up on sandbags.
The Atlanta Falcons are in a prime position to select a quarterback if they so desire at No. 4 overall in April's draft, which would throw Ryan's standing as franchise quarterback into a realm of uncertainty. That's what happened to a lesser degree to Aaron Rodgers when Green Bay spent its first-round pick on Jordan Love last spring.
If the Falcons make such a move in the spring, Ryan is ready to be an adult about the situation.
"Part of being on a team is you're going to be a good teammate and help where you can and you also have the personal responsibility of trying to be the best player you can be," Ryan told 680-AM in Atlanta, via The Athletic's Jeff Schultz. "Whatever happens at that spot, we're all professionals, we all understand how this goes."
Ryan's standing has been somewhat uncertain for a bit now anyway, largely because of the franchise's struggles, not his performance. Rumors of potential trades involving Ryan started flying back around the time head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were fired during the regular season. But Ryan's current contract -- one he signed at 33 years old in 2018 -- makes it financially difficult, if not prohibitive to attempt to move him.
Still, it's not every year a team is afforded a top-five pick in a quarterback class that has more than a couple first-rounders; especially not a club with an aging, well-paid quarterback. The time might be now for Atlanta to strike, and they might still be tied to Ryan for a couple more years before his contract's dead cap number becomes easier to bear.
That would mean Ryan would be in a situation similar to Rodgers' current setup, being tasked with leading his team to victory with the ticking of his career clock growing louder with each week, while also having the new guy constantly just over his shoulder.
"You're not going to be best friends with everybody," Ryan explained. "But part of being a good teammate is competing and pushing people to be the absolute best they can be. Your job as an individual is to be the best player you can be and find a roster spot regardless of who's drafted or where they're drafted. ... But my personality is not to be standoffish with anybody else."
Such an approach would be the opposite of what Rodgers had to endure when he, like Love, was a late first-round selection of the Packers and was forced to sit behind Brett Favre. And to Rodgers' credit, he responded to the selection of Love by going out and putting together a season that will likely win him NFL MVP this weekend.
Ryan, meanwhile, is still playing good football. He finished fourth in the NFL in total passing yards, posted a 26-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and ended 2020 with a 93.3 passer rating. If Atlanta could cobble together a semblance of a rushing attack in 2021 -- something it hasn't done in the last two seasons, finishing 30th and 27th in rush yards per game in 2019 and 2020, respectively -- the Falcons might turn things around quicker than expected.
And if they pull the trigger on a signal-caller in the first round, they might have their future in place, too, with little rush to launch it.