What do the voters think: Is Matt Ryan a Hall of Famer?
Matt Ryan, who turns 39 next month, threw for 62,792 yards and 381 touchdowns in his career, quickly becoming the face of the Falcons during the most successful era in franchise history. AP FILE 2009

FLOWERY BRANCH — Former Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan plans to officially file his retirement papers with the league office on Tuesday, which would start his five-year clock to be eligible for consideration to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Brett Favre, who was drafted by the Falcons, was the last quarterback to be enshrined and that was in 2011. Before Ryan is eligible, Tom Brady (seven Super Bowl wins), Eli Manning (two Super Bowl wins), Drew Brees (one Super Bowl win), Philip Rivers (no Super Bowl wins) and Ben Roethlisberger (one Super win) will be eligible.

Ryan, who was drafted third overall in the 2008 draft, played 15 seasons in the NFL. He guided the Falcons to the playoffs six times and to one Super Bowl.

He was also the league’s MVP after the 2016 season.

He spent last season working as an analyst for CBS.

“I think the first time he stepped into the huddle, we knew that he had what it took to play that spot,” former Falcons center Todd McClure said. “Then you started to see the pieces that the organization was putting around him to make him successful. He was just as steady as they come.”

On Monday at a press conference announcing that Ryan was retiring as a Falcon, he was asked if Ryan the television analyst believes that Ryan the quarterback is a Hall of Famer.

“Yes and Yes,” Ryan said.

“I feel like I’d be harder on myself as an analyst. I was so thankful to be able to do that this past season. I really enjoyed working for CBS and calling games with the crew that I got to call them with.

“As far as the other stuff, I think my body of work is strong. I think I did a lot of things the right way. Ultimately, it’s not really my call. So, it doesn’t really make a difference.”

Ryan broke most of the Falcons franchise passing records that were held by Steve Bartkowski.

“I’ll say this, I’m really proud of the things I accomplished, we accomplished as a group,” Ryan said. “If you would have told me at 15 that this is the way it was going to shake out, I would have signed up for it every time.”

Former Falcons wide receiver Michael Jenkins believes Ryan is a Hall of Famer.

“Obviously, if you do have that Super Bowl victory, it would makeit a little easier, but I do think he is a Hall of Famer,” said Jenkins, who played for the Falcons from 2004-10.

McClure, who played for the Falcons from 2000-12, believes Ryan will have a gold jacket in his future.

“No doubt,” McClure said.

“Well, you look at numbers, number one. I know this isn’t the criteria, but being the ultimate pro. The way he prepared for the game. The way he cared about his teammates. Just the way that he handled his business. It’s no question to me that he’s going to have a gold jacket in his closet at some point.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reached out to several of the 50 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here’s what they had to say (several did not want to be identified):

Ira Kaufman, Tampa Bay: “The more you dig into Ryan’s career, the more there is to like. His consistency and durability are worthy of Hall of Fame discussion and his postseason passer rating ranks No. 5 all-time. I’m not going to blame him for the Falcons squandering a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl during his MVP season, when he threw nine TD passes without a pick in the playoffs. Should be a lively discussion.”

Darin Gantt, Carolina Panthers: “The thing I know for sure is there will be interesting debates about this generation of QBs, and it could take years to resolve them. Ryan has an interesting case, but so does Cam Newton. They both have an MVP and a Super Bowl appearance, and Ryan’s passing stats are countered by Newton being a game-changing, twoway threat. When you throw in Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning, there’s a lot of traffic. So, I think anyone assuming that their quarterback of preference is an automatic will likely be disappointed. The recent logjam of receivers could be instructive, as clumps of players at the same position can delay all of them.”

Charean Williams, NBC/Profootballtalk.com: “Matt Ryan checks many of the boxes you look for in a Hall of Famer. He played a long time -- 15 years. He won a lot of games -- 128, including the postseason. He won a league MVP award in 2016. He threw for a lot of yards, with his 62,792 ranking seventh all-time, and a lot of touchdowns, with his 381 ranking ninth all time. But only once was he an All-Pro, and he made the Pro Bowl only three times.

He was not one of the top quarterbacks of his era, and thus, he never made an all-decade team.

He also obviously is lacking a Super Bowl win. His credentials get him into the room for discussion, and I look forward to hearing the presentation for him, but the presenter has some work to do to make the case that he deserves to have a bust in Canton.”

James Lofton, CBS: “A little early to think about Matt. In line behind Rivers, Big Ben, E Manning maybe Cam, A Rod (and) Michael Vick and maybe a few more. The great passing era will lower the bar.”

An unnamed selector: “I think not.”
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press: “Put me down as undecided. I’d have to dive deeper into his case when the time comes to say yes or no with any authority, but I don’t look him as being in the same class as Brady, Manning, Brees, Rodgers. The MVP season helps but that was his only first- or second-team All-Pro sea-son. I’m not sure that’s enough to qualify as one of the greatest of all-time.

An unnamed selector: “I’m on (the) fence. An MVP. Went to a SB. Would feel better if he had a better W-L record overall. I like his case better than E Manning’s, definitely don’t think Eli is HOFer.

Not sure on Ryan, I lean no, but not sure. I was a lean no on (Kurt) Warner and changed mind. In my mind standard for QBs has to be especially high, they have such profound effect on games.

Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News: “No. He earned one MVP and one All-Pro. He played in an era where Brady, Brees and Big Ben and Eli will get in the Hall. Rivers is borderline with Ryan. Right now I’d say no.”

An unnamed selector: “My inclination is to say probably yes, but I’m looking forward to hearing the discussion and learning more about his career. He had one fantastic season and would be a slam dunk if he had more like it.”

Jason Cole: “If we put Eli Manning in, Matt Ryan compares pretty favorably in terms of stats and consistency. Same with Phillip Rivers.”

An unnamed selector: “I think he’s going to have a tough time. All of these QBs today have great “stats” because of the era they play in, with the rules set up for passing success. So, we have to find additional ways to evaluate them. I’m not saying Matt won’t ever get in, but it likely will be a wait. I hate saying that because I really like Matt as a person. But the Hall is supposed to be for the greats of the greats.

An unnamed selector: “Not sure that I see him as a Hall of Famer, but definitely worth a deep dive and discussion. And no, it doesn’t come down to that Super Bowl.”

Alex Marvez, SiriusXM NFL Radio: “While I don’t think he will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection, I believe Matt Ryan did piece together a career worthy of being inducted. The numbers are there on multiple levels in terms of passing yards, touchdowns, victories, playoff appearances and winning NFL MVP honors in 2016 during a season featuring eight other QBs who are considered either locks or will receive strong consideration for the Hall.”