Calvin Ridley

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Bills, Fangio

Even though the Patriots re-signed Kendrick Bourne, their failed pursuit of Calvin Ridley leaves a void at receiver. Robert Kraft certainly believes the team made a viable offer but cited an interesting reason for the former first-round pick choosing the Titans.

It was not because of finance. Clearly, his girlfriend wanted to be in the South,” Kraft said (via the Boston Herald’s Doug Kyed) of Ridley, referring to the wide receiver’s wife. “We had a situation where the taxes were, like, almost 10% higher. We offered — we were willing to keep going at that premium. But he didn’t want to be in the Northeast. And part of it might be the quarterback situation as well.”

The Pats and Jaguars were believed to be battling for Ridley, but the Titans came in with a monster offer. Tennessee gave Ridley a whopping $46.98MM guaranteed at signing — third among all wide receivers. That number will jump to $50MM if he is on Tennessee’s roster on Day 5 of the 2025 league year. The Patriots have faced criticism for their free agency route, after Jerod Mayo said the team was planning to be more aggressive. Much of the Pats’ moves have involved re-signings. The Pats have a big decision to make at No. 3 overall, and trade-down rumors are emerging. If they do draft a passer third, the WR need will be glaring — unless a rumored Pats trade effort produces a deal — on Day 2 of the draft.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Michael Onwenu joined the host of guards who received big paydays this month, but the Patriots are not planning to return him to his primary rookie-contract position. New England is planning to station Onwenu where he played much of last season. After re-signing the former sixth-round pick on a three-year, $57MM deal, the Pats are keeping him at right tackle, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Onwenu appears comfortable with this plan, per the Boston Sports Journal’s Mike Giardi. The Pats used Onwenu at guard during the 2021 and ’22 seasons, but after injury issues at right tackle last season, Bill Belichick moved him back to that position — where he spent time during his rookie campaign. While left tackle remains an issue post-Trent Brown, the Onwenu deal solidifies the team’s RT job.
  • Bills GM Brandon Beane does not expect Micah Hyde to retire, and despite the team having re-signed Taylor Rapp and brought Mike Edwards over from the Chiefs, Hyde could remain in the picture. Beane is not ruling out a re-signing, ESPN.com’s Alaina Getzenberg notes. Hyde played out a third Bills contract and joins a few other accomplished safeties on the market — Justin Simmons, Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs among them. While GMs often indicate interest in re-signing a player at a lower rate exists, the Bills did follow through on this by bringing back Jordan Poyer at a lower cost (two years, $12.5MM) in 2023. Buffalo disbanded the Hyde-Poyer tandem by cutting the latter this month.
  • Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin has a workout scheduled with the Bills, per Sportskeeda.com’s Tony Pauline. The No. 43 overall prospect on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board, Franklin has four “30” visits scheduled as well. Working with first-round QB prospect Bo Nix, Franklin posted 1,383 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Franklin was sick during Combine week, Pauline adds, noting he weighed in seven pounds heavier (183) at his pro day.
  • Mike McDaniel confirmed the Dolphins did not have the intention of moving on from Vic Fangio after one season, but the third-year HC indicated (via ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Beasley) a few one-on-one conversations led to an understanding it would be best for the sides to part ways. Fangio quickly agreed to terms with the Eagles, which came after players heard rumblings the accomplished DC was eyeing a move back to Philadelphia during last season.
  • Bourne’s three-year, $19.5MM Patriots contract includes $5.5MM guaranteed, and KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets the veteran wide receiver can guarantee $2.5MM of his $5.5MM 2025 base salary by eclipsing 800 receiving yards this season. Bourne, who is coming off a torn ACL, has one 800-yard season in six years; he posted exacted 800 in 2021.

AFC Contract Details: Titans, Jeudy, Browns, Brown, Bengals, Broncos, Bills, Jets, Texans

Here are contract details from some of the latest deals agreed to around the league.

  • Calvin Ridley, WR (Titans). Four years, $92MM. In addition to his $20MM signing bonus, Ridley will see his first two base salaries ($4.5MM, $22,5MM) fully guaranteed. If on Tennessee’s roster by Day 5 of the 2025 league year, Ridley will receive a $3.02MM guarantee for his 2026 base salary ($20.24MM), per OverTheCap. If Ridley remains on Tennessee’s roster by Day 5 of the 2026 league year, he will earn a $1MM bonus. This still stands to give the Titans some 2026 flexibility.
  • Jerry Jeudy, WR (Browns). Three years, $52.5MM. The recently traded wideout’s base value, as expected, checks in lower than the initial numbers. The ex-Denver target will see guarantees into his the deal’s third year, with SI.com’s Albert Breer noting $6MM will be guaranteed for 2026. Jeudy received $41MM guaranteed at signing.
  • Curtis Samuel, WR (Bills). Three years, $24MM. The Bills are guaranteeing $5MM of Samuel’s $6.91MM 2025 base salary at signing. The entire ’25 base is guaranteed for injury, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Samuel will be due a $1MM roster bonus on Day 5 of the 2026 league year; his $6.51MM 2026 salary is nonguaranteed.
  • John Simpson, G (Jets). Two years, $12MM. This number is down a bit from the initial $18MM figure, which is the deal’s max value. Simpson will see $6MM guaranteed, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini notes. The Jets used three void years to spread out the cap hits; the fifth-year guard is on New York’s books at $3.2MM in 2024.
  • Folorunso Fatukasi, DT (Texans). One year, $5.2MM. The recent Jacksonville cut will receive $4.6MM guaranteed at signing on his Houston pact, Wilson tweets. The Texans tacked two void years onto the veteran nose tackle’s deal.
  • Trent Brown, T (Bengals). One year, $4.75MM. The veteran tackle will receive $2MM guaranteed, with OverTheCap indicating $1MM will be available in per-game roster bonuses with another $250K in play via a workout bonus. A bonus-laden structure is not new for Brown, who had weight clauses in his most recent two Patriots contracts.
  • Solomon Thomas, DL (Jets). One year, $3MM. The Jets are guaranteeing the former No. 3 overall pick $2.5MM, Cimini adds.
  • Mike Edwards, S (Bills). One year, $2.8MM. The former Tampa Bay and Kansas City safety can earn up to $4MM on his Buffalo deal, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan tweets. He is on the Bills’ cap at $2.8MM.
  • Cody Barton, LB (Broncos). One year, $2.46MM. The Broncos will land the veteran linebacker for more than $1MM cheaper than the Commanders did in 2023. Denver is guaranteeing $2.33MM of the deal, per the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson.
  • Desmond King, CB (Texans). One year, $1.8MM. Veteran slot cornerback/return man’s contract can max out at $2.2MM, Wilson tweets.

Titans To Sign WR Calvin Ridley

After a Jaguars-Patriots duel formed in the Calvin Ridley sweepstakes, a mystery suitor revealed itself. The Titans are swooping in with a big offer to land the former first-round pick.

Ridley will commit to Tennessee on a four-year, $92MM deal, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. The Titans are giving Ridley $50MM fully guaranteed. A year after winning a lower-priced DeAndre Hopkins pursuit, Tennessee will pair him with Ridley.

This marks a windfall for Ridley, who will cash in despite missing the 2022 season due to a gambling suspension and leaving the Falcons early in the 2021 slate. After Atlanta traded Ridley to Jacksonville during his suspension, the former Alabama standout posted his second 1,000-yard year. Although the Jaguars wanted to retain Ridley, they may have stopped short of this price point.

As of Wednesday afternoon, however, the Titans checked in with the NFL’s most cap space. Ran Carthon‘s team carried $72MM before the Ridley agreement. While the Patriots and Jaguars both made offers, a stealth suitor may have topped them both. The Jags had been viewed as likely to retain Ridley, but they already have three veteran contracts at receiver (Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Gabe Davis) and another at tight end (Evan Engram). Tennessee has Hopkins on a relatively low-cost accord, after beating out the Patriots in that race as well, giving the team a clearer path to pursue this year’s top free agent wideout. Indeed, in a piece written by Jeff Howe, Larry Holder, and Randy Mueller of The Athletic (subscription required), we learned that while the Jags’ and Pats’ offers were in the same ballpark, the Titans’ proposal was significantly higher.

At $23MM per year, Ridley checks in as the NFL’s ninth-highest-paid receiver; the $50MM guaranteed at signing, however, is the more important number. Only Tyreek Hill‘s 2022 Dolphins deal carried more locked in at signing. That illustrates where this market went and the aggressive pushes teams were making to bring in this market’s top receiver.

Ridley, 29, will also reunite with the Jaguars’ 2023 pass-game coordinator, Nick Holz, who landed the Titans’ OC job earlier this offseason. Holz was on-hand for a rather uneven Jaguars offensive season, with Press Taylor calling plays. Ridley, however, used the 2023 slate to rebound after effectively two years away. The 2018 first-round pick left the Falcons in October 2021, and while the team helped him find a desired trade destination — Ridley picked Jacksonville — money may well be talking for the Florida native.

PFR’s top 50 free agent ranks listed the Titans as a potential Ridley suitor — largely due to cap space and what has transpired since the A.J. Brown trade. The Titans have not seen Brown’s immediate replacement — 2022 first-rounder Treylon Burks — become a difference-maker. And less than two years after the ill-fated Brown move, the Titans ditched their GM (Jon Robinson) and HC (Mike Vrabel). The Titans were not offering Brown a deal in this ballpark; two years later, and with the cap exploding to $255.4MM, a new GM will sign off on this money for Ridley, whose career has been much rockier than the current Eagles WR1’s.

As Julio Jones‘ hamstring trouble — which helped lead the Falcons to trade him to the Titans the following year — produced a 2020 shutdown in Atlanta, his younger sidekick broke through. Ridley’s 90-catch, 1,374-yard, nine-TD season placed him on the All-Pro second team. Ridley said he played most of the 2020 season on a broken foot, but he was not informed of the break until June 2021. He underwent surgery, which was described as a minor procedure, but said he was not close to 100% by Week 1. This preceded Ridley leaving the Falcons, citing mental health reasons.

Ridley’s rookie contract tolled to 2023 due to the subsequent gambling ban, which will add more risk to this Titans bet. Although Ridley produced in spurts for the Jags in a 1,016-yard season, he will turn 30 before the 2024 season ends. Two of Ridley’s four 100-yard showings came against a struggling Titans team, though, and Carthon will place a big bet on Ridley having plenty left in the tank to help Levis. This contract will pair with Levis’ rookie deal, which runs through 2026.

Titans Rumors: Ridley, Gardner-Johnson, Dillard

The Titans have yearned for a No. 1 wide receiver since they traded away A.J. Brown. Literally since that exact moment, when they used the draft pick they acquired in that trade to draft Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks in the hopes that he would take over. They had also traded for former Rams wide receiver Robert Woods in hopes that he would return from injury to the form of his best years in Los Angeles.

When neither of those moves worked out quite how the wished, Tennessee signed DeAndre Hopkins. While Hopkins certainly gave them a season worthy of a WR1, it became clear that that was not quite enough, that the team still had to get better around Hopkins. Enter Calvin Ridley.

The list of free agent wide receivers this year is expansive, but it is anything but lucrative. Some of the top options like Gabriel Davis and Darnell Mooney had already signed and other top options like Mike Williams, Michael Thomas, and Odell Beckham Jr. came with their own caveats. According to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, the Titans brass was focused on a singular goal: landing the best wide receiver available.

With the options out there, they set their sights on Ridley and their focus narrowed. The team reportedly put themselves in position to land Ridley starting last night, keeping in constant contact with Ridley and company. Not wanting to allow for anyone else to obtain their treasure, they made their move, offering what they knew would be the best deal that any team might offer the 29-year-old receiver. The rest is history, they landed their man, and he will be donning Titans blue in 2024.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of Nashville:

  • With the Titans looking to add a defensive back to the roster, following the loss of Kevin Byard after his trade midseason, the name C.J. Gardner-Johnson has come up, per Adam Caplan at Pro Football Network. The veteran safety has some familiarity with the staff playing one of the best seasons of his career under new defensive coordinator Dennard Wilson when the two were both in Philadelphia. Gardner-Johnson missed nearly all of the 2023 campaign with a torn pectoral muscle, starting the first two games of the season and making a comeback for the playoffs, so he may even come at a slight discount.
  • While retaining that their plans could change, Caplan also reports that the Titans are currently expected to retain veteran left tackle Andre Dillard, who just finished the first year of his three-year, $29MM contract. Dillard started 10 games last year and was forced to the bench for six others. $6MM of his $9MM base salary for 2024 became fully guaranteed today and he will carry a $10.68MM cap hit for the season. Cutting him now would only save $2.88MM of cap space while leaving $7.79MM of dead money, while designating him a post-June 1 release could clear up $6.47MM of cap space, leaving the team with only $4.2MM of dead money. If he is retained, he would be assumed to start at left tackle, leaving Nicholas Petit-Frere and Jaelyn Duncan to battle for the right tackle job.

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.

Patriots Submit Offer To WR Calvin Ridley

The Patriots’ reported interest in receiver Calvin Ridley is very real. According to Josina Anderson, the Patriots have made an offer to the free agent wideout.

[RELATED: Patriots Pursuing Calvin Ridley]

The organization is also opting to “keep a deal on the table” following today’s reports that focused on the interesting logistics of the previous Jaguars/Falcons trade. If Jacksonville re-signs Ridley before 2pm tomorrow, they’ll owe Atlanta a second-round pick. If they wait beyond that deadline and re-sign the receiver, the Jaguars would only owe the Falcons a third-round pick.

This led some pundits to believe that Ridley was destined to return to Jacksonville and was simply biding his time to provide his organization with better draft capital. However, it sounds like the Patriots are still very much in the hunt, and it’ll be interesting to see how negotiations progress over the next 24 hours.

New England holds more than $80MM in cap space, and with Ridley sitting atop the WR market, it only made sense that the Patriots would target the free agent for their new-look offense. The team moved on from Mac Jones and added veteran Jacoby Brissett, and the organization appears to be leaning towards selecting a QB with the third-overall pick. Ridley would represent an intriguing target for whoever is under center for the Patriots in 2024 and beyond.

The Patriots’ receivers struggled in 2023, although that was partly due to the team’s inconsistent play at quarterback. The team has already moved on from DeVante Parker and is looking to unload JuJu Smith-Schuster, leaving plenty of question marks atop the depth chart. The team did agree to new deals with Kendrick Bourne and Jalen Reagor, but the rest of their depth chart features unproven options like Demario Douglas, Tyquan Thornton, and Kayshon Boutte.

Patriots Pursuing Calvin Ridley; Jaguars Still Aiming To Retain WR

MARCH 12: The Pats and Jags continue to pursue Ridley, according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, who notes sources around the league point to a darkhorse team being in this mix. Another deep wideout draft class is likely affecting this year’s receiver market as well, though Darnell Mooney fetched a nice haul from the Falcons earlier today.

The Jags still being in this pursuit is interesting, with the team locking in Gabe Davis on Monday. Ridley coming back alongside Davis would point to the Jags, who also have Christian Kirk and Zay Jones under contract, changing up their current WR group.

MARCH 10: Wide receiver changes are expected in New England. After the team’s JuJu Smith-Schuster signing did not produce much of consequence last year, a bigger swing is anticipated once the legal tampering period begins Monday.

The Patriots are expected to pursue Calvin Ridley in free agency, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes. The cap-rich team is not known for big free agency spending, save for a few instances (largely 2021), but new faces are running the show. The Eliot Wolf-led operation appears to be aiming for a big upgrade around a to-be-determined starting quarterback.

[RELATED: 2024 Top 50 NFL Free Agents]

Jacksonville is expected to try and retain Ridley, but due to the structure of the trade with Atlanta in 2022, a pre-free agency strike has not been expected. If the Jaguars re-sign Ridley after he hits free agency, they will only owe the Falcons their 2024 third-round pick. If a deal becomes official before Ridley hits the market, Jacksonville owes Atlanta its second-rounder. The team already sent the Falcons a 2022 fifth in this two-pick trade.

With Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr.. tagged and Mike Evans re-signing with the Buccaneers, Ridley looks to be the top free agent wideout available. The Patriots hold more than $82MM in cap space; only the Commanders are carrying more into the tampering period. New England re-signed Hunter Henry late this week, but its pass-catching corps still features questions.

The Pats gave Smith-Schuster a three-year, $25.5MM deal that included $16MM fully guaranteed. His $7MM base salary for 2024 is locked in. DeVante Parker, however, may be less likely to be on the 2024 Patriots. The team is expected to try to unload Parker’s contract in a trade, according to MassLive.com’s Karen Guregian, Chris Mason and Mark Daniels. It would save the Pats just more than $3MM by trading Parker, who has two seasons left on the extension he signed last year. The former Dolphins first-round pick has $3.1MM remaining in guarantees on that summer 2023 re-up.

While last year did not feature a good receiver environment in New England, Parker totaled only 394 receiving yards — third-most among Pats wideouts. Smith-Schuster managed just 260 in an injury-shortened season. Despite playing in only eight games, Kendrick Bourne finished with 406 receiving yards and four TDs. The Patriots are not closing the door on keeping Bourne on a second contract.

Bourne and the Pats are still talking, per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, who indicates the sides have not found an acceptable middle ground. Bourne, 28, is coming off an ACL tear. That said, the ex-49er appeared back in the team’s good graces after residing in the doghouse during a 2022 season in which he came up in trade rumors. Bourne, who totaled 800 receiving yards in Mac Jones‘ rookie season, played out a three-year, $15MM deal.

Jags In Talks With Calvin Ridley, Josh Allen

Trent Baalke said in January the Jaguars will have Josh Allen back on their 2024 team, pointing to a franchise tag as a mortal lock. The team is not closing up shop on reaching an extension with its top edge rusher just yet.

Stopping short of confirming the Jags will tag Allen, Baalke said the sides remain in talks. Given Allen’s contract-year surge that ended with a 17.5-sack season — a Jags single-year record — this might be a tricky negotiation that requires more time. The 2019 first-round pick had not previously eclipsed 10.5 sacks in a season. Allen is set to turn 27 in July.

The tag will allow the Jags until July 15 to reach a deal. They have used the tag each year in the 2020s, cuffing Yannick Ngakoue, Cam Robinson and Evan Engram. The team extended Robinson and Engram, after trading Ngakoue.

While Allen’s place on the 2024 Jags appears a near-certainty, Calvin Ridley is tied to unique contract conditions that complicate his future in Jacksonville. Already sending a 2023 fifth-round pick to the Falcons, the Jaguars would owe them an additional 2024 third if they were to let Ridley hit the market. If Ridley re-signs once there or departs, Jacksonville owes Atlanta its 2024 third. If the team views the wideout as a true priority and reaches what is technically an extension — a deal before the 2024 league year begins March 13 — the Jags would owe a second-rounder instead of a third.

It would seem the Jags would be better served by waiting out Ridley and protecting their second-rounder, but the team wants to retain the former first-round pick — regardless of how that comes to pass. Baalke and Ridley met one-on-one recently, and the team is set to talk with the veteran pass catcher’s camp at the Combine.

We’re not real concerned with that, whether it’s a second or third round,” Baalke said of the second pick to be conveyed in the Falcons trade. “We’re just going to work with the player and see if we can come to an agreement. Whether that’s before the compensation changes or not, that remains to be seen. We’re more focused on the player.

I had a great talk with Calvin, know exactly where he’s at and and he knows where we’re at.”

Thanks to the end-of-season collapse that left the Jaguars out of the playoffs, their second-round pick checks in 48th. Their third-rounder sits 79th. Barring a Ridley extension before 3pm CT on March 13, that pick will transfer to the Falcons. The Jags have a little more than $24MM in cap space; an Allen tag would account for all of that, as the cap spike moved the linebacker tag to $24MM.

If Ridley were to hit the market, however, the Jags will have likely intense competition. If the Colts follow through with a Michael Pittman Jr. tag, the absences of he and Tee Higgins on the market would boost Ridley’s value.

Do not look for the team to consider Cam Robinson‘s contract as one to move to create space. Baalke expects the team’s 2021 and ’22 franchise tag recipient to be back with the team. The longtime Jags left tackle is due a $16.25MM base salary and is set to carry a $21.19MM cap number. Another extension would reduce that cap charge, though it is unclear if that is the cards just yet for the 2017 second-round pick.

Robinson signed a three-year, $52.75MM extension in April 2022. Although the Dave Caldwell regime drafted Robinson and he was first tagged during Urban Meyer‘s offseason in charge, Baalke was at the helm when the Jags finalized the extension. Pro Football Focus graded Robinson, who missed much of last season due to a PED ban and a subsequent knee injury, 46th overall among tackles.

Jaguars Prepared To Use Franchise Tag On Josh Allen, Want To Retain Calvin Ridley

Although Josh Allen and Calvin Ridley‘s rookie deals began in different years, those five-year contracts will expire at the same time. Ridley’s 2022 gambling suspension changed his timetable, which puts his second NFL employer on the clock now. Both players are set for free agency, though the team would prefer neither reaches the market.

It appears fairly clear how the Jaguars will approach this decision, with a hierarchy forming early. Allen will be prioritized. GM Trent Baalke confirmed (via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe) the five-year edge rusher will be a Jaguar next season. This would point to the Jags being prepared to use the franchise tag once again.

Jacksonville has used the tag in each of the past three years, keeping both Cam Robinson and Evan Engram off the market. They tagged Robinson twice. For Allen, a tag would cost nearly $22MM. Though, the recurring linebacker-or-defensive end debate would figure to come up here. Allen is nominally an outside linebacker but for all intents and purposes plays defensive end. This issue has come up for several teams in the past, as the linebacker tag — which groups on- and off-ball ‘backers together — is set to check in around $1.5MM below the DE number.

The Ravens reached a compromise with Matt Judon back in 2020; that could be relevant for the Jags and Allen, who played defensive end when the team used a 4-3 scheme. New DC Ryan Nielsen has used both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes during his time as a coordinator. Judon’s Ravens agreement notwithstanding, teams generally win these debates — should a grievance come from Allen’s side.

The Jags retaining Allen will be pivotal; the Kentucky alum broke through in a contract year. After hitting double digits in sacks once — as a rookie in 2019, with 10.5 — over his first four seasons, Allen registered 17.5 in 2023. This could not prevent a Jacksonville late-season collapse, but it undoubtedly made the former top-10 pick some money. Of course, this performance coming after three seasons in which Allen failed to surpass eight sacks also could lead to a “prove it” request from the team that leads to the tag once again coming out. That said, the Jags kept Allen out of trades at the 2022 deadline. The 26-year-old pass rusher will bring some leverage to extension talks, which Baalke confirms have not yet begun.

Ridley’s situation is more complicated. The Jags re-signing the 2018 first-round pick would determine what draft choice goes back to the Falcons. The Jags already sent the Falcons a 2023 fifth-round pick for Ridley, but the second choice is conditional depending on the Alabama alum’s future in north Florida. If the Jaguars re-sign Ridley, they would owe the Falcons a second-round pick.

The sky’s the limit; he’s only going to get better because of the way he works,” Baalke said of Ridley. “When you love something as much as he loves football, you can’t help but get better. We would love to have Calvin back. We are going to work toward that. What that means is, I don’t know right now.”

Ridley’s age also could complicate matters for the Jags. He is already 29, being set to turn 30 during the 2024 season. Jacksonville also has Christian Kirk tied to an $18MM-per-year accord and Zay Jones on an $8MM-AAV pact. Engram’s 2023 tag led to a three-year, $41.25MM extension. While Trevor Lawrence remains on a rookie deal, he should be expected — despite an inconsistent season — to receive a mega-extension either in 2024 or 2025. A Ridley re-up would represent a significant commitment to the skill positions. Travis Etienne is also now extension-eligible.

The 2022 trade pickup did produce his second 1,000-yard season, accumulating 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns in 17 games. This came after Ridley missed the 2022 season and most of the 2021 campaign, the latter absence coming after the talented wideout cited mental health reasons for leaving the Falcons. Ridley re-established some momentum in 2023 and, after generating extensive trade interest in 2022, would be one of the top wideouts on the market, should the Jaguars not re-sign him before the legal tampering period.

Browns Attempted To Acquire Calvin Ridley In 2022

It took some moving parts for Amari Cooper to end up in Cleveland. In addition to the Cowboys determining his contract would no longer fit on their payroll, Cooper’s Browns arrival also looks to have been contingent on trade talks with the Falcons falling through.

Before the Browns turned their attention to Cooper in March 2022, they were one of the teams in on Calvin Ridley, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer. A Ridley-Eagles “what if?” also represents one of the wide receiver dominoes from a significant offseason in the position’s history; the Browns now loom here as well.

The Eagles nearly acquired Ridley before his suspension surfaced, but the Browns engaged with the Falcons on a deal as well. The team expected Chris Godwin and Mike Williams to be franchise-tagged, Breer adds. Only Godwin was, but Williams re-signed with the Chargers on a deal that matched Cooper’s 2020 terms (three years, $60MM) just before the 2022 free agency period. This took pieces off the table for the Browns, who were moving into position to trade for Deshaun Watson.

With Ridley off the board due to the suspension, the Browns landed Cooper at a much lower cost compared to what it took the Cowboys to pry him from the Raiders in 2018. The Cowboys, who sent the Raiders a first-round pick for Cooper in 2018, traded him to the Browns for a fifth-rounder and a swap of sixths. Other teams waited to see if the Cowboys would cut Cooper, per Breer, but his contract no longer looks particularly onerous. Jerry Jones said last year Cooper became unrealistic to retain, and the Cowboys have CeeDee Lamb on their extension radar. But the Browns have reaped considerable benefits from what amount to a flier on Cooper last year.

Upon breaking Josh Gordon‘s Browns single-game receiving record (with 265 yards), Cooper soared past his single-season career high Sunday. The ninth-year veteran is now at 1,250, which tops his previous career best of 1,160 — set with the 2022 Browns. Cooper, 29, now has seven 1,000-yard seasons in his career. For a team that has started four quarterbacks, the former top-five pick has been vital to it staying afloat in the playoff race.

The Browns did well to acquire Cooper before the receiver market exploded last year. His five-year, $100MM contract runs through 2024, and it began to look better after the run of receiver extensions that shaped the ’22 offseason. Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill raised the market’s ceiling, which still sits at $30MM per year, and the Eagles started the run on extensions for the 2019 class by giving A.J. Brown $25MM per year and a position-record $56.5MM fully guaranteed. After the likes of Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel and D.K. Metcalf signed, Cooper’s $20MM AAV dropped into a tie for 11th at the position. Cleveland has Cooper on a $23.8MM cap number in 2024. An extension, which would drop that figure, is likely on the AFC North team’s radar.

While the Browns and Eagles made their receiver moves during Ridley’s suspension, more clubs entered the Ridley mix before last year’s trade deadline. A few offers came the Falcons’ way, but after the team worked with the suspended wideout, he made his way to the Jaguars in a two-pick trade in which the compensation is not yet final.

The Jags sent a 2023 fifth-rounder and a conditional 2024 pick to the Falcons. That pick has already become a fourth, by virtue of Ridley making Jacksonville’s 53-man roster this year; it would rise to a second if the contract-year pass catcher signs an extension with the Jags. Ridley, 29, has produced an up-and-down season for the Jags, accumulating 871 yards. With Christian Kirk signed through 2025, it will be interesting to see if Jacksonville will be willing to part with a second-round pick by extending Ridley.