Jaguars Likely To Re-Sign WR Calvin Ridley?

3:00pm: With the new league year starting, the second part of the Ridley trade is locked in. The Falcons will receive the Jaguars’ 2024 third-round pick (No. 79). Had Ridley re-signed earlier, Atlanta would have ended up with Jacksonville’s No. 48 selection. The Jags already sent the Falcons their fifth-round choice last year. Now, the team awaits word on if it will keep the wide receiver.

2:47pm: We are minutes from the 2024 league year, which matters significantly in this particular free agency pursuit. Only the Jaguars and Patriots have been closely connected to Ridley, and Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz labels this a two-horse race. Despite Ridley’s 2021 hiatus and 2022 gambling suspension, he is expected to land a big number in free agency.

Continuing to make it clear to their 2022 trade pickup they view him as a long-term option rather than a rental, the Jags can re-sign him after 3pm CT and only send a third-round pick to the Falcons. At this point, it appears Atlanta will not be in play to collect Jacksonville’s second-rounder.

11:07am: Calvin Ridley‘s free agency has presented one of the more complex markets in recent memory, with the 2022 Jaguars-Falcons trade significantly impacting its composition. As the Patriots try to poach the former first-round pick, the Jags are not giving up.

Despite the Jags having agreed to terms with Gabe Davis, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes they have made an offer to retain Ridley. This comes after a report indicated the Patriots have made an offer to Ridley, who looms as the top wideout available after Mike Evans, Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr. did not end up hitting the market.

Ridley, 29, is the only one of PFR’s top 11 free agents not to have chosen a destination yet. A wink-wink agreement between Ridley and the Jags could conceivably be in place. If Jacksonville signs Ridley before 3pm CT today — the start of the 2024 league year — it goes down as an extension, meaning the team will send Atlanta its 2024 second-round pick. If Ridley re-signs with the Jags after 3pm, the Falcons will obtain the AFC South team’s third-rounder.

On that note, Jones adds the Jaguars are viewed as the more likely winner of these sweepstakes. The 2022 trade pickup is weighing the cost of living, and Florida’s lack of a state income tax has always represented an advantage against most other states housing NFL franchises. A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native, Ridley also chose to be traded to the Jags in 2022; the Falcons discussed the 2018 first-round pick with several teams but worked with him to find an acceptable destination. Ridley having picked the Jags 17 months ago figures to matter now as well.

Ridley returning to Jacksonville would create a crowded receiver room. The Jags already featured an unusually constructed skill-position group, one that featured four players on either veteran contracts or a fifth-year option, in 2023. With Davis coming in, the team would seemingly need to move on from either Zay Jones or Christian Kirk to avoid the stranger scenario of five veteran deals — all north of $8MM per year — being allocated to pass catchers. With Kirk working as Trevor Lawrence‘s top target for most of his tenure, Jones may be the one on the chopping block. The slot player is due a $7MM base salary and is on the Jags’ cap at $10.75MM.

The Jags will need to backload Ridley’s contract or make more moves to clear cap space, as they hold just more than $5MM. The Patriots are in much better shape, sitting with nearly $60MM despite making several moves to retain their own UFAs. Ridley staying in Jacksonville would move the focus to other available wideouts — perhaps the Chargers’ Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who have been connected to the Pats — as New England attempts to land a No. 1-caliber target.

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