Calvin Ridley Applies For Reinstatement

Moved to the Jaguars just before the 2022 trade deadline, Calvin Ridley will attempt to make his way back into the NFL. Ridley’s gambling suspension sidelined him last season, and the former first-round pick must apply for reinstatement to return.

Wednesday marks the first day Ridley could apply to be reinstated, and Ian Rapoport of reports the embattled wide receiver did just that (Twitter link). The Jags acquired Ridley from the Falcons for a package that hinges on his availability and potential second contract.

The league handed Ridley the suspension after an investigation concluded he bet on NFL games during a short period in November 2021. Ridley is on the short list of players to be banned for gambling — one that includes Hall of Famers Paul Hornung and Alex Karras, and former top-five QB pick Art Schlichter — but upon making the trade, the Jags received assurances he would be ready to play in 2023.

Ridley, 28, has been out longer than his suspension duration. The former 1,000-yard receiver left the Falcons abruptly midway through the 2021 season, citing mental health issues. Ridley last played on Oct. 24, 2021. The Jags still took him off the Falcons’ payroll, adding a four-year starter to a receiving corps that looks a bit more promising after the results of last season.

Jacksonville signed Christian Kirk to a four-year, $72MM contract — a deal that became more reasonable after the receiver market’s boom over the next few months — and gave Zay Jones a three-year, $24MM deal. Ridley is still tied to his rookie contract, which calls for an $11.12MM fifth-year option in 2023. That option is now the Jags’ responsibility. The Jags now have a reasonable path to a 2023 pass-catching corps featuring Kirk, Jones, Ridley and tight end Evan Engram, whom they want to re-sign.

Once the NFL rules on Ridley, a path to him practicing with his new team will come into focus. Ridley teamed with Julio Jones for three seasons in Atlanta but emerged as the Falcons’ top target when Jones went down with a hamstring injury in 2020. Ridley, who caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards that season, totaled 28 career touchdown receptions prior to his 2021 hiatus. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native has regularly been training on his own ahead of his next opportunity.

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