Cardinals, Falcons Finalizing Desmond Ridder Trade

That was fast. Falcons talks with teams about a Desmond Ridder trade will produce a deal; the Cardinals are finalizing an agreement to acquire the third-year quarterback, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reports.

Wide receiver Rondale Moore is coming back to Atlanta in the deal, per’s Ian Rapoport. One season remains on Moore’s rookie deal; two years are left on Ridder’s contract. No picks will be moved in this deal.

The Falcons made their Kirk Cousins signing official Wednesday, as the new league year began, and they still have backup Taylor Heinicke under contract on his two-year, $14MM accord. He is due a $5MM nonguaranteed salary. Heinicke would stand to represent some insurance and, if nothing else, an arm capable of leading the team through offseason workouts as Cousins finishes up his Achilles rehab. The Falcons have determined Ridder is no longer a fit.

Moore will join Darnell Mooney as new Falcons complementary wideouts; the ex-Bears 1,000-yard weapon signed a three-year, $39MM deal. A 5-foot-7 target used mostly near the line of scrimmage in Arizona, Moore is a former second-round pick. The slot player may be set to be a regular alongside Mooney and Drake London in Atlanta. Though, the Purdue alum had not maintained a grip on the Cardinals’ slot job. Greg Dortch usurped Moore during the 2023 season, as a new coaching staff changed the Kliff Kingsbury offense in which Moore was drafted to play.

Chosen 49th overall, Moore has shown some intriguing form as a tertiary target in a Cousins-guided offense. Although Moore has only cleared 10 yards per catch in one of his three seasons (2022), he has totaled 1,201 yards in that span. Moore posted back-to-back 400-yard seasons as part of DeAndre Hopkins-fronted receiving crews. New Cardinals OC Drew Petzing gave Moore 26 carries last season as well; he turned them into 178 yards and a touchdown. In coming from the NFC West, Raheem Morris and Falcons OC Zac Robinson have seen plenty of Moore.

Moore’s worst yardage total as a Cardinal (352, in 2023) would have been second among Falcon wideouts last year. Mack Hollins‘ 251 yards led the London wingmen; Hollins has since signed with the Bills. Ridder’s form contributed to that low number, and the Falcons also funneled targets to Kyle Pitts and the since-cut Jonnu Smith. They appear to be shifting to an offense that features more reliable wideouts and one primary receiving tight end. Minnesota and Washington largely operated this way with Cousins, who fed slot receivers K.J. Osborn and Jamison Crowder steady targets. This trade could benefit Moore as a 2025 free agent.

Ridder, 24, ranked 26th in QBR last season, finishing with a 12-12 TD-INT ratio and a 7.3 yards-per-attempt number. After the Cincinnati alum sat behind Marcus Mariota for much of the 2022 season, the Falcons gave him 17 total starts. Passing on a veteran arm last year, the Falcons put considerable faith in Ridder. But Arthur Smith, who ended up on the chopping block, benched him twice. Coming out of last season, word immediately surfaced Atlanta was aiming to upgrade at QB. Enter Cousins and another big contract.

Ridder’s rookie deal calls for $985K and $1.1MM base salaries over the next two seasons. That will pair well with Murray’s $46.1MM-per-year extension. The Cardinals traded Josh Dobbs to the Vikings at last year’s deadline; Dobbs is now a free agent. Arizona has 2023 fifth-rounder Clayton Tune signed for three more seasons.

It will be interesting to see if Ridder will be given the QB2 job or if Tune will be placed on even footing. Given Murray’s 2022 ACL tear and his history of short-term absences, the Arizona backup role may well lead to opportunities next season.

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