Calvin Ridley

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.

Calvin Ridley Done For Season

Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley will be shut down for the rest of the season, as Ridley himself announced on Instagram. The second-year wideout sustained an abdominal injury during the third quarter of Atlanta’s win over the Panthers on Sunday, and he did not return to the game.

Obviously, the 4-9 Falcons have been out of playoff contention for some time, so it makes sense for the club to play it safe with Ridley, who followed up a strong rookie campaign in 2018 with an even better sophomore effort. After catching 64 passes for 821 yards and 10 TDs in 2018, Ridley reeled in 63 receptions for 866 yards and seven scores in three fewer games in 2019.

Ridley, whom the Falcons selected with the No. 26 overall pick of the 2018 draft, was considered the most polished receiver in his class. He has more than lived up to that billing and has shown a nose for the endzone, and while the Falcons as a whole have disappointed over the past two years, Ridley has been a bright spot.

Since trading Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots in October, the Falcons have given opportunities to a number of younger receivers. With Ridley out of the picture for the remainder of the year, players like Russell GageChristian Blake, and Olamide Zaccheaus will have more chances to shine.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Only Seven Unsigned NFL Draft Picks Remain

The overwhelming majority of this year’s NFL draft picks have signed their rookies deals. As training camp gets started, only the following seven players are without contracts:

For Mayfield, Darnold, Ward, Allen, and Smith, the holdup is reportedly tied to offset languagePlayers with offset language who are cut before the end of their rookie contract have the remaining guaranteed money reduced by whatever they earns elsewhere. Without offset language, players get to double dip. Top 10 picks expect to complete their rookie contracts, but it’s an important issue for agents nonetheless. There’s no sign of real acrimony between any of the Top 10 picks and their respective teams, though Smith has been staying away from the Bears.

In Edmunds’ case, it’s likely that his agent is haggling over guarantees in the fourth year of his rookie contract. First-rounders selected near the end of the first round often don’t get the entirety of their fourth season base salary guaranteed, but that’s an area where agents can press for a bit extra in talks. Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny took less in fourth-year guarantees than last year’s No. 27 overall pick, talks dragged for several other players near the back end of the round. Others, such as Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan have signed, but the Virginia Tech product is still in limbo.

Pettis is believed to be in line for a significant role this season, so it would behoove the Niners to get a deal done sooner rather than later.

Falcons Sign First-Round Pick Calvin Ridley

Who says nothing happens in the NFL on the Fourth of July? On Wednesday morning, Calvin Ridley‘s agents took to Twitter to announce that the wide receiver has signed his rookie deal with the Falcons. Ridley, selected with the No. 26 overall pick, has received a four-year, $10.9MM deal, as dictated by his slot. 

First-round picks have been slower to sign that the rest of this year’s selections, including those taken near the end of the first round. That’s because Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny agreed to a lower fourth season salary guarantee than last year’s No. 27 overall pick, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White. Those selected near the end of the first round often don’t get the entirety of their fourth season base salary guaranteed, but agents can push for a decent chunk of it to be guaranteed. Penny’s reps apparently settled for less, which may have emboldened teams near the back of the order.

Apparently, the Falcons and Ridley’s camp were able to meet somewhere in the middle. Both sides are hoping that minutia like Ridley’s guarantee in 2021 and the offset language contained in the deal will be a non-factor.

Ridley joins a loaded Falcons offense as he slots behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. After racking up 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns at Alabama, the Falcons believe that Ridley will be able to hit the ground running in 2018.

What I’ve seen is excellent transition in and out of breaks, it’s as good as anybody I’ve been around,” quarterback Matt Ryan said recently. “He’s got very good hands. He’s smart, we put a lot on these guys early in OTAs as far as knowing different positions, knowing where to line up, different route combinations, adjustments that we have versus certain coverages. He’s picked up all that stuff really well. You can tell he’s been well coached prior to coming into the NFL.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.