Colts officially release veteran QB Matt Ryan

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The Indianapolis Colts have officially released Matt Ryan after one year, the team announced Wednesday. The move comes after he was benched for Sam Ehlinger and later Nick Foles during the season.

He leaves the team with a 4-12 record in his starts. He recorded 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a career-high 15 fumbles on a 67% pass completion rate. Ryan will still receive $12 million from the Colts, a guarantee that was not in his previous contract.

Now the 37-year-old will have the option to explore free agency, or not. "I gotta see how it shakes out but I still love playing and honestly I still feel like there's a lot of good football in my body," Ryan told the Indianapolis Star in January, when asked about his future.

When Ryan was benched for Sam Ehlinger in Week 8, he was honest with reporters who asked about his feelings, adding that he would "accept and embrace" his backup role.

"I was individually and personally disappointed," Ryan said. "As a player, as a competitor, you wanna be out there. You wanna go. It’s part of the deal in this league. You gotta produce and you gotta go out there and play. Frustrated that we weren’t able to do that in the first seven games. But you move forward. Life in this league is week-to-week and the production has to be there. Obviously, disappointed personally but here for the team.”

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He was drafted in 2008 and spent the next 14 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons where he went without missing a start in all but two seasons. The Falcons then traded the longtime franchise cornerstone to the Colts for a 2022 third-round draft pick before signing Marcus Mariota from the Las Vegas Raiders.

By moving on from Ryan, the Colts incurred an $18 million dead money charge and saved $17 million in salary cap space. Tuesday, the Colts also reportedly agreed to trade Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys for a fifth-round compensatory pick for the 2023 NFL draft, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Both of those moves combined saved the Colts $27.1 million against the 2023 salary cap. The team owns the No. 4 overall pick in next month's NFL Draft.