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News for nerds

The Falcons are coming off a 4-12 season, they have a new coach and G.M., and quarterback Matt Ryan turns 36 this offseason and is slated to have a $40.9 million salary cap hit. Given those facts, it’s understandable that some have asked whether the Falcons will move on from Ryan this year.

But Falcons owner Arthur Blank says that’s not happening. Asked by Andrew Siciliano on NFL Network whether Ryan will be back, Blank said he will — and then Blank added, unprompted, that wide receiver Julio Jones will be back as well.

“I’d be shocked, completely shocked if he is not. It really has nothing to do with his contract. Matt has played at a very high level for us since 2008 when we drafted him,” Blank said. “Matt can still play at a very high level so we expect him to be a Falcon next year, fully. Same question was raised regarding Julio Jones and we expect Julio to be a Falcon next year and play at a very high level as well. . . . They’ll both be with us.”

Blank said smart franchises have transition plans, noting that the Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes and kept him on the bench for a year behind Alex Smith. So with the fourth overall pick, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Falcons draft Ryan’s heir apparent. But in 2021, Ryan and Jones will be in Atlanta.