Calvin Ridley

Latest On Falcons WR Calvin Ridley

It doesn’t sound like Calvin Ridley‘s return is coming any time soon. While the Falcons wideout is now eligible to be activated off the non-football injury list, head coach Arthur Smith told reporters that he doesn’t have an update on the former first-round pick (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter).

The wideout announced in late October that he’d be stepping away from football to deal with his mental health. The organization later placed him on the reserve/non-football injury list, meaning he’d miss at least three additional games. The 26-year-old is now eligible to come off the list, but it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to return to football.

The 2018 first-round pick emerged as one of the NFL’s top wideouts in 2020, finishing with 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. This was going to be a pivotal year for the former first-round pick. The Falcons picked up his fully guaranteed fifth-year option but have not yet signed him to an extension. The team also traded Julio Jones to the Titans, firmly establishing Ridley as Atlanta’s No. 1 wideout.

His numbers were a bit underwhelming through the first four games, with Ridley hauling in 27 catches for 255 yards and one touchdown. Since that time, he’s only seen time in one game, when he caught four passes for 26 yards and one touchdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Place Calvin Ridley On NFI List

Calvin Ridley‘s break from football will last at least four weeks. After Ridley was a surprise scratch for the Falcons’ Week 8 game, the team placed its top wide receiver on the reserve/non-football injury list Friday.

This designation will sideline Ridley for at least three more weeks. The fourth-year pass catcher announced last week he was stepping away from football for the time being to deal with a personal matter. The earliest Ridley can return is Week 12.

The Falcons have already seen Ridley miss two games already for a personal reason this season. While Ridley returned after missing the Falcons’ London game in Week 5, catching four passes for 26 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins, he was declared inactive for Week 8. During Atlanta’s loss to the Carolina, Ridley made his intention to step away public via Twitter.

This is a pivotal year for the former first-round pick. The Falcons picked up his fully guaranteed fifth-year option but have not yet signed him to an extension. The Falcons traded Julio Jones to the Titans, firmly establishing Ridley as Atlanta’s No. 1 wideout. It is uncertain when the 26-year-old talent will retake his place in the Falcons’ starting lineup, but the team moving him to the NFI list will provide him some time away.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons’ Calvin Ridley To Miss Week 5

Calvin Ridley will not make the trip with his Falcons teammates to London. The Falcons have ruled out their top wide receiver in Week 5 due to a personal matter.

This certainly represents a blow to a passing attack that will also be without Russell Gage, who will join Ridley in staying home for the Falcons’ London game. Gage is battling an ankle injury that forced him to miss the past two games. The fourth-year wideout remains on Atlanta’s active roster.

Ridley became Atlanta’s unquestioned No. 1 wideout this summer, when the Falcons sent Julio Jones to the Titans, and has 27 receptions for 255 yards and a touchdown this season. The Falcons picked up Ridley’s fifth-year option earlier this year. With Jones out of the picture, a Ridley extension would appear imminent in 2022.

Though Kyle Pitts‘ presence will become even more pivotal, the Falcons will be down to a skeleton crew at receiver against the Jets. They have the likes of Olamide Zaccheaus, a third-year UDFA, and Tajae Sharpe in the fold. Atlanta, however, has also done well to coax quality run- and pass-game work from Cordarrelle Patterson, who leads the team with 354 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Washington, Gallup, Ridley

The Washington Football Team was always meant to be a temporary name after Washington ditched their old nickname. Then it became somewhat popular with fans, leading to some consideration of making it permanent. That appears less likely now, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just “issued an initial refusal” of the team’s attempt to trademark the name, Sam Fortier of the Washington Post reports. The decision cited the “generic geographic nature of the request.”

That doesn’t mean they can’t use the name Washington Football Team for the 2021 season, it just means they can’t enforce the trademark right now for things like merchandising. However, experts that Fortier spoke to seem to think the franchise has a good chance of getting this decision overturned on appeal. Either way, it might further incentivize owner Dan Snyder to go with something entirely new. One expert suggested to Fortier the team could add new elements to make the brand more distinctive, like a mascot. A ‘Football Team’ mascot would certainly be something to behold.

Here’s more from around the NFC on a quiet Sunday evening:

  • Sticking in the NFC East for a moment. It’s “unlikely” that receiver Michael Gallup is on the Cowboys’ roster beyond this season, Jon Machota of The Athletic writes. Machota argues there’s “just not enough salary cap space,” to fit contracts for Gallup, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. A third-round pick in 2018, Gallup is entering the final year of his rookie deal and will be looking to get paid next offseason. Machota does think there’s “a scenario” where Cooper deals with injuries or regresses and the team opts to move on from him and keep Gallup, but that they won’t likely be back together. The Colorado State product is coming off a solid season where he turned 59 catches into 843 yards and five touchdowns, mostly without Dak Prescott. In his last year with Prescott, in 2019, he had 1,107 yards and six scores in only 14 games.
  • After trading Julio Jones, the Falcons will be leaning heavily on Calvin Ridley this season. As such, there was understandably some concern when it was announced a couple weeks ago that Ridley had undergone foot surgery. Fortunately, we’ve got another positive update to pass along. The foot injury was actually something Ridley dealt with during the 2020 season, and not a new injury suffered this offseason, the wideout told the media recently, via Scott Bair of the team’s official site. “It was just minor,” Ridley said. “I can walk and all that right now. I’m taking it one day at a time.” He also added that he’s “pretty sure” he’ll be ready for training camp, although Bair writes “that remains a bit of an unknown at this stage.” Either way, it doesn’t sound like anything to panic about.
  • In case you missed it, Bears linebacker Roquan Smith is saying he isn’t worried about a potential contract extension.

Surgery For Falcons’ Calvin Ridley

Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley recently underwent minor foot surgery (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). As a result, he’ll be unable to take the field during minicamp. Fortunately, it’s more of a cleanup than a serious operation, so Ridley should be good to go in time for training camp. 

[RELATED: Fallout From Julio Jones Trade]

Ridley set new career watermarks last year with 90 grabs for 1,374 yards. The former No. 26 overall pick also found pay dirt nine times. In an otherwise trying year for the Falcons, Ridley was a bright spot. All in all, he’s got 217 catches, 3,061 yards, and 26 touchdowns to his credit.

Now, the Falcons will be counting on Ridley more than ever with Julio Jones out of the picture. And, with some the much needed cap relief that came from the Jones deal, the Falcons should be able to start extension talks with him in the near future. For now, the 2018 first-round pick is signed through 2022, thanks to his fifth-year option worth $11.116MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Julio Jones Fallout: Contract, Suitors, Titans

In a trade that will send one of the 21st century’s best players to the AFC, the Titans moved ahead of the pack in this pursuit via a firm offer. The Titans were the only serious Jones suitor, according to NBC Sports’ Peter King.

The Falcons spoke with several teams on Jones, though offers were scarce. At various points in this process, the team discussed the All-Pro wide receiver with every NFC West franchise. The Cardinals are a new entrant in this derby, but Albert Breer of SI.com notes neither they nor their NFC West rivals sent the Falcons firm offers.

The Titans initially proposed sending the Falcons a conditional third-rounder that could become a second, Breer adds, but Atlanta had Tennessee’s proposal of a second-rounder sans conditions on the table for a bit. Sunday-morning negotiations that ended with the teams agreeing to exchange later-round picks finalized the deal, according to King.

Tennessee’s willingness to absorb Jones’ $15.3MM guaranteed salary also outflanked other suitors, per Breer, who notes the Falcons were not interested in eating part of Jones’ 2021 salary in order to sweeten trade compensation. No first-round pick was offered, Breer notes, though at one point a first did come up as part of a potential pick swap.

A Jones-Falcons divorce first surfaced around draft time, and it became a deal framed around the new Falcons regime receiving cap relief. Given the salary component in these talks, that certainly is a key reason why Jones is Nashville-bound. But this separation began when Jones and the Falcons negotiated his wideout-record three-year, $66MM extension. Jones lobbied the Falcons for a new deal after the 2017 season; the Falcons refused and ended up making minor adjustments to his previous contract in 2018. The future Hall of Famer pursued the matter again in 2019. While the sides hammered out an agreement, the months-long negotiations — which ended with a Sept. 7 accord — took a toll on both parties. Jones communicated to the Falcons he wanted out in March.

Although the Ravens pursued several receivers this offseason and signed Sammy Watkins, their Jones interest ceased after the draft. Baltimore using first- and fourth-round picks on wideouts — Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace — ended its talks with its former division rival. Finances scuttled Seahawks involvement, King notes, adding the Patriots were also not serious players in this chase.

It sounds like the Falcons are preparing for a pricey Calvin Ridley extension. The 2018 first-round pick is now eligible for a new deal, and the Falcons are preparing for that expensive re-up, per Breer, by getting the Jones contract off their books. Though Atlanta is still eating some dead money from this trade, the team has some time on a Ridley extension. The Falcons picked up his fifth-year option in May, locking up Ridley through 2022.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Pick Up Calvin Ridley’s Option

The Falcons have exercised Calvin Ridley’s fifth-year option for the 2022 season, per a club announcement. The wide receiver is now set to earn $11.116MM in his additional year. 

Atlanta said no to Hayden Hurst‘s 2022 option, but Ridley was an easy choice. Last year, Ridley set new career watermarks with 90 grabs for 1,374 yards. The former No. 26 overall pick also found pay dirt nine times. In an otherwise trying year for the Falcons, Ridley was a bright spot. All in all, he’s got 217 catches, 3,061 yards, and 26 touchdowns to his credit.

Now, Ridley could be in line for an even larger role, depending on what the Falcons do with longtime star Julio Jones. As they work their way through a tough cap situation, new GM Terry Fontenot says that he’ll “have to listen” to trade inquiries.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Thomas, McCaffrey

Not that much doubt existed as to why Antonio Brown is in Tampa, but the Buccaneers indeed reversed course on the volatile wide receiver because Tom Brady pushed for the signing, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora notes. Brown is living with Brady, who insisted to Buccaneers brass he would work with the former All-Pro daily to ensure he does not become a problem for the organization.

Brady told them he is going to make sure this is not a problem,” a source with knowledge of this process told La Canfora. “He guaranteed BA (Bruce Arians) that he would make sure this guy did everything he has to do, even if Brady has to drive him there himself. And (the Bucs) made it clear to Brady that Brown is on a very short leash. If he (slips up), he’s gone.”

Brown went from potential first-ballot Hall of Famer to the epicenter of numerous controversies last year, but Brady expressed disappointment the Patriots released him after one game. Arians said in March that Brown would not be a fit with the Bucs. They activated him this week; Brown will debut for a third team Sunday against the Saints.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Staying on the subject of availability for the biggest game in the history of the Saints-Bucs series, Michael Thomas is finally on track to return to action. The All-Pro wide receiver, who has not played since suffering an ankle injury against the Bucs in Week 1, is on track to be back in action Sunday night, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com tweets. Thomas has missed six games due to ankle and hamstring injuries and for striking a teammate. Emmanuel Sanders also practiced Friday, putting the veteran No. 2 wideout in line to play Sunday. Sanders missed two games after contracting the coronavirus.
  • In this suddenly intergalactic matchup of receiving corps, Chris Godwin will be back as well. Arians said Friday the fourth-year target will be back after undergoing surgery on a broken finger. Godwin has missed time due to three separate issues this season, and given that doctors told him he would face a four- to six-week recovery timetable — per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter — his return will be worth monitoring. Doctors inserting pins into Godwin’s damaged index finger opened the door for him to miss just one game, Schefter adds.
  • Keeping with the “return to action” theme here, Christian McCaffrey‘s six-week hiatus is expected to end. The All-Pro Panthers back will be activated ahead of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, per Matt Rhule. McCaffrey has been sidelined since Week 2 because of a high ankle sprain.
  • Calvin Ridley is battling a mid-foot sprain, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link), and is questionable to face the Broncos on Sunday. Ridley left the Falcons’ Week 8 win with the foot malady.