Ryan told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday that he felt keeping the possibility of a return -- say, in the event of an injury to a starting quarterback -- made the most sense given the NFL's unpredictability.
"I don't know," Ryan said when asked what might prompt a return. "This situation, all the stars would have to [align]. I've just learned, at least during my experience in the 15 years I've played, to just not shut any doors. That's really the decision behind that. ... I'm excited to kind of take this next step and to move forward, but at the same time, you never know what's going to happen in this league. Anything could shake out, and so we'll see what happens."
Ryan spent 14 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, earning four Pro Bowl bids, one first-team All-Pro nod and NFL MVP honors in 206. The 38-year-old joined Indianapolis in 2022, struggling through 12 games, including two different benchings by two different coaches, putting up his worst numbers since early in his pro tenure, including a career-low 14 TD passes.
Ryan's season -- highlighted by sack-fumbles galore and few explosive plays in a limited offense behind a struggling offensive line -- looked like the sharp decline we'd come to anticipate from veteran quarterbacks before Tom Brady blew up the expectations. It could take multiple Teddy Bridgewater-type training camp injuries for Ryan to get a call to return.
Of course, the savvy veteran must keep the door ajar for a potential return to ensure he gets the $12 million in guaranteed money the Colts owe after cutting him. Indy could theoretically go after some of his money, à la Calvin Johnson in Detroit, if he officially retired this offseason -- not that owner Jim Irsay would make that sort of move, but Ryan not retiring makes the decision moot.
Ryan added that his experience with CBS after the regular season ended led to his new gig.
"I had the opportunity after the season to go up and get in the studio with the crew on NFL Today, and I had a blast doing it," he said. "I really did. I enjoyed being up there with those guys, getting to talk ball beforehand, talk through the show, get on-air, and talk a little bit. I really enjoyed that aspect of it.
"The opportunity they presented me with for next season -- where it's a combination of doing some things and getting in the studio and doing some work there, just to really get a feel for how all of this operates and to learn from so many of the professionals that they have there -- it seemed like a good fit, and I'm excited about that. And you never know. I've tried to keep all doors open. We all know this league is crazy, and there is a lot of things that can happen in the course of a season. So I'm excited to be with CBS and really excited to do some of this work this fall."
After listening to his 59-second response to a question on SiriusXM NFL Radio, I'll provide his first broadcast tip: On TV, brevity is your friend, sir.