Calvin Ridley

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.

Latest On Unsigned First-Round Picks

Only six percent of 2018 NFL draft picks remain unsigned, and 71% (12-of-17) of those contract-less selections are first-rounders. For a certain slice of those unsigned first-round picks, especially those selected near the back end of Day 1, Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny‘s contract is playing a role in negotiations, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains.

While the three players selected at pick Nos. 23-25 (Patriots offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore, and Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst) each garnered significant fourth season base salary guarantees, Penny — who was chosen with the 27th overall pick — actually saw his fourth season salary guarantee percentage decrease when compared to 2017’s No. 27 selection, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, per Florio.

The NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement implemented slotted rookie contracts which make negotiations a breeze, but there’s a still a bit of wiggle room. First-rounders selected near the end of the first round won’t often 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. Penny’s representatives, clearly, didn’t do so, which could now lead other teams with unsigned first-round picks to withhold guarantees.

Here are the unsigned first-round picks chosen after No. 20 overall:

Overall, the amount of fourth season guarantees shouldn’t stand in the way of getting deals for the above players done, as the dollar amounts in question are in the thousands, not millions. But the lack of signed contracts does speak to the small area of available negotiation still left in rookie pacts, and is something to watch as the offseason progresses.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Breer On NFL Draft, Dolphins, Moore

Have pre-draft workouts gotten out of control? Many in the football world believe that is the case, Albert Breer of The MMQB writes.

I worked out a guy who was dead because he got smoked by the team that worked him out two days before,” said one NFC assistant coach. “I had some questions about his toughness coming in, but I had to give him a pass on the whole thing. And it’s on the coaches for doing that.”

After a workout season that saw Wisconsin cornerback Nick Nelson tear his meniscus while working out for the Lions and N.C. State defensive tackle Kentavius Street tear his ACL while with the Giants, it may be time to bring some reform to the way teams conduct auditions with prospects.

Here’s more from Breer:

  • The Dolphins say they have the ammo to get into the Top 6 of the draft if there is a player they like, but Breer gets the sense that Miami probably won’t deal up for any of this year’s top quarterbacks. If they stand pat at No. 11, Breer believes that UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the most likely signal caller to fall to them. Of course, Miami has holes to fill elsewhere, so a Ryan Tannehill successor/alternative isn’t necessarily their top priority.
  • The Cardinals seem unlikely to make a big play to land one of the best four QBs. However, if a QB they like slips into the bottom part of the Top 10, Breer could see them making a move.
  • More than one team prefers Maryland’s D.J Moore to Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, Breer hears. This is consistent with recent buzz we’ve heard about the rise of Moore. Recently, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport categorized Moore as a firm first-round prospect, which is a change from what we were hearing just a couple of weeks ago. Still, Breer thinks Ridley will be the first WR off of the board and pegs the Cowboys as a likely destination since they have a clear need after cutting Dez Bryant.
  • Overall, this draft has depth that will lead to better-than-usual quality into the fourth round, Breer writes. However, the feeling is that this group isn’t stocked with blue-chippers, which means that teams in the 20s feel that they essentially have high second-round picks. “(Picks) 20 and 55 may wind up being the same,” one exec said. “The guy in the last third of the first round, you might be paying a first-round premium on him and he’s no different than the guy at 35 to 40. And those guys in the last third of first round, top half of the second, they’re the same not only in ability but value of their role in the game.” Breer wonders if this could hamper the Bills in their efforts to trade up using the No. 22 pick.

NFL Draft Rumors: Cowboys, Key, Bills

Wednesday marks the final day for NFL draft visits, and we have some notable ones to pass along. Here’s the latest NFL Draft news:

  • LSU linebacker/defensive end Arden Key worked out with the Cowboys on Tuesday and met with the Saints on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans is visiting the Bills and Texas tackle Connor Williams is visiting the Packers, Rapoport tweets.
  • The Patriots are hosting Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley on a pre-draft visit, a source tells Rapoport (on Twitter). The Patriots aren’t known for taking receivers in the first round, but Ridley could be an exception as they look to rebuild that group. Ridley also visited the Bears on Tuesday.
  • Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore seems to be a firm first round prospect, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). For a while, Moore appeared to be a fringe first/second round type, so his stock is improving as the draft draws near. Moore met with the Bills, who pick No. 12 and 22, on Wednesday.
  • Ohio State center Billy Price will meet with the Seahawks, Alex Marvez of SiriusXM tweets. Price is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during the bench press at the combine. The good news is that Price is expected to be ready in time for training camp.