The Jaguars are making a bet for the future. Despite Calvin Ridley serving a full-season suspension, he is changing teams. The Falcons are sending the former first-round wideout to the Jags, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
The sides are still determining a final compensation package, but the trade has been agreed upon. Jacksonville will send Atlanta a package that will max out with a 2023 fifth-rounder and a 2024 second. The latter part of the Falcons’ haul is classified as a conditional 2024 fourth, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
Ridley’s Jacksonville performance and duration will impact the trade value. If Ridley plays for the Jags in 2023, the conditional fourth-rounder must be conveyed. If he hits certain performance thresholds, the Falcons will receive a 2024 third. The pick upgrades to a second if the Jags extend Ridley, per Schefter, adding an intriguing variable into one of the more unusual trades in recent memory (Twitter link).
Atlanta was on the verge of trading Ridley to Philadelphia earlier this year, but the impending gambling suspension nixed it. Now, the Jags are parting with two picks for a player who cannot play for them until next season.
While unexpected, this is an intriguing swap. The Jags are 2-6 and may not have a true complement for Christian Kirk. Ridley stands to fill that role next year, though he is neither a sure thing nor signed long term. Ridley’s contract tolled to 2023, due to the suspension, but he is set to play on a fifth-year option salary ($11.12MM). The Jags will still attempt to see how he looks with Trevor Lawrence.
A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, Ridley is on the older end for a 2018 draftee as well. The 6-foot-1 pass catcher will be 29 before his first Jaguars season ends. The Jags will still provide a landing spot for the embattled pass catcher, who did not finish the 2021 season with the Falcons. Ridley left the team for personal reasons midway through the year. With that preceding his gambling ban, it is fairly surprising a team is willing to trade for him. Ridley must wait until February 2023 to apply for reinstatement.
When available in Atlanta, Ridley looked like one of the NFL’s top young receivers. The ex-Julio Jones sidekick posted back-to-back 800-plus-yard seasons with Matt Ryan in 2018 and ’19 and broke through in 2020, hauling in 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. That came during a season in which Jones’ hamstring trouble began to become a regular issue, leading to Ridley’s rise into Ryan’s top weapon. Not too much time has passed since that point, but the Falcons have completely closed the book on this period.
Atlanta has now traded Jones, Ryan and Ridley within a 17-month span. The team also let Thomas Dimitroff-era draftee Russell Gage sign with Tampa Bay. The Falcons still roster Olamide Zaccheaus from the previous era but now have a new quarterback and new top playmakers. GM Terry Fontenot chose Kyle Pitts and Drake London in the top 10 over the past two years. The Falcons will sink or swim with those rookie-contract performers catching passes, though the team is using a run-oriented attack with Marcus Mariota presently.
The Jaguars gave Kirk a four-year, $72MM deal but also signed Zay Jones to a three-year, $24MM accord this offseason. The team has 2021 free agency addition Marvin Jones playing out his contract. Kirk still resides atop Jacksonville’s long-term aerial pecking order, but the Jags have made an interesting splash to see if it can land a high-end supplementary piece in Ridley. Between Kirk and Ridley, the latter’s 2020 season represents the only 1,000-yard showing. It remains to be seen if the 2018 first-rounder can show that form again.