Calvin Ridley

Jaguars Assured Calvin Ridley Will Be Ready To Play In 2023

Emerging as a flurry of pre-deadline trades occurred, the Jaguars’ decision to acquire Calvin Ridley is a bet on the wide receiver recapturing his 2020 form and giving Trevor Lawrence a high-end target next season. The team must go on faith its newly acquired wide receiver will be reinstated and be ready to play in 2023; the Jags are confident both of these components will break their way.

The Jaguars cannot contact Ridley until the NFL reinstates him, and even before the former Falcons wideout’s gambling suspension surfaced, he left the team midway through the 2021 season due to mental health issues. The Jaguars have received assurances Ridley will be ready to play in 2023, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes.

Ridley, 27, is training regularly on his own, Schefter adds, and Ridley’s Twitter feed suggests excitement about the Florida move. The former first-round pick is not eligible for reinstatement until after Super Bowl LVII.

The Jags are quite confident Ridley can help them, having discussed this trade for months. They are the only known team to have pursued Ridley since the gambling suspension. The Eagles were close to acquiring him ahead of that news dropping. Instead, ex-Eagles HC Doug Pederson will have a chance to oversee Ridley’s fifth NFL season.

I don’t think [the long layoff] is a concern,” Pederson said, via ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. “For the player, I think you look at it as a possible fresh start. Kind of rejuvenated much like myself. Energy level will be high, a new team, coming back to Florida, all those. It’s just a matter of once he is cleared by the league, getting him in here when we can and getting him caught up.”

Jacksonville agreed to a layered trade structure with Atlanta. Two picks will be exchanged for Ridley, though it could take until 2024 to determine the full haul. If Ridley is not reinstated before the 2023 draft, Peter King of NBC Sports notes the Jags will send the Falcons their 2023 sixth-round pick. If he is reinstated before that point, the Falcons will receive the Jags’ fifth-rounder next year. The 2024 choice — which could range from a second-rounder to a fourth — is more complicated.

If Ridley is eligible to play in 2023, the Jaguars will take on all of his $11.1MM fifth-year option salary. Ridley was set to play out that option year in 2022, but the gambling ban led to the deal tolling. Ridley being on Jacksonville’s 53-man roster after cutdown day means the Jags owe the Falcons a 2024 fourth-rounder, King adds. Unspecified performance- and usage-based incentives would take the price to a third. The Jags signing Ridley to a second contract would mean a second-round pick goes to the Falcons.

It is unknown if there is a firm date in which such an extension must occur, but if Ridley re-signs before the 2024 draft, the Falcons collect a second-rounder from the Jags. A reinstatement will make Ridley eligible for free agency in March 2024. This unusual clause and Ridley’s age makes a rental scenario somewhat realistic. The Alabama alum will turn 29 before next season ends. Chosen in the same draft as Ridley, Christian Kirk is two years younger. A franchise tag would presumably count as a second contract under this unusual formula, so the prospect of a tag-and-trade transaction is unlikely.

Ridley has excelled when on the field. He produced back-to-back 800-yard seasons to start his career and tallied 1,374 yards in 2020. Jacksonville has seen just one 1,000-yard receiving — DJ Chark (1,002 yards) in 2019 — since both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns accomplished the feat in 2015. The Jags seeing Ridley return to his pre-hiatus form would give Lawrence a boost and provide Kirk with a better complement compared to the team’s current situation. Zay Jones is under contract through 2024; Marvin Jones‘ deal expires after this season.

Ridley’s path will be a key storyline to follow over the next year and change. If Ridley does re-sign with the Jaguars, it will mean the Falcons will have collected AFC South teams’ second-rounders for both he and Julio Jones.

Falcons, Jaguars Discussed Calvin Ridley Trade For Months

The trade which sent Calvin Ridley from Atlanta to Jacksonville this past Tuesday caught many around the NFL off guard. With the suspended wideout ineligible to play this season, the timing of the deal came as a surprise, but the teams had been in talks regarding a swap dating back months.

As detailed by ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, Jacksonville identified Ridley as a potential target during this past offseason. The Jaguars entered the spring with a new head coach in Doug Pederson, and a need to add at the skill positions around second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. That resulted, most notably, in the high-priced free agent addition of Christian Kirk, but the possibility of acquiring Ridley was a topic of conversation.

“These discussions have been ongoing for a long time and everything we do here, we understand there’s a lot of parties involved in it,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “[There’s] a cause and effect in a tough business and [we] always do everything in the best interest of the team and in regards to the players we got.”

The Jaguars certainly weren’t the only interested party in Ridley. It became known days after the 27-year-old was issued a year-long gambling suspension in March that Philadelphia almost completed a deal to acquire him. That near-trade demonstrated Atlanta’s willingness to part ways with the 2018 first-rounder, whose final Falcons season ended after he stepped away from the team for mental health reasons.

As Rothstein notes, the effect Ridley’s suspension had on his contract likely played a part in the Falcons being able to move him. The Alabama product is due $11.1MM on the fifth-year option in 2023 (assuming he is reinstated in time to play next season). That final year of his rookie deal tolled as a result of the suspension, but the figure is also no longer guaranteed. Atlanta has made a number of cost-cutting moves this year, including the deals sending away quarterback Matt Ryan and linebacker Deion Jones. Clearing Ridley’s 2023 cap hit will give the team some added financial flexibility as they pivot to first-round rookie Drake London to lead their WR room, while closing the book on Ridley’s time in Atlanta.

“This wasn’t something that happened at the trade deadline,” Smith further explained. “It was a long process. So leave it at that.”  

Falcons To Trade WR Calvin Ridley To Jags

The Jaguars are making a bet for the future. Despite Calvin Ridley serving a full-season suspension, he is changing teams. The Falcons are sending the former first-round wideout to the Jags, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The sides are still determining a final compensation package, but the trade has been agreed upon. Jacksonville will send Atlanta a package that will max out with a 2023 fifth-rounder and a 2024 second. The latter part of the Falcons’ haul is classified as a conditional 2024 fourth, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Ridley’s Jacksonville performance and duration will impact the trade value. If Ridley plays for the Jags in 2023, the conditional fourth-rounder must be conveyed. If he hits certain performance thresholds, the Falcons will receive a 2024 third. The pick upgrades to a second if the Jags extend Ridley, per Schefter, adding an intriguing variable into one of the more unusual trades in recent memory (Twitter link).

Atlanta was on the verge of trading Ridley to Philadelphia earlier this year, but the impending gambling suspension nixed it. Now, the Jags are parting with two picks for a player who cannot play for them until next season.

While unexpected, this is an intriguing swap. The Jags are 2-6 and may not have a true complement for Christian Kirk. Ridley stands to fill that role next year, though he is neither a sure thing nor signed long term. Ridley’s contract tolled to 2023, due to the suspension, but he is set to play on a fifth-year option salary ($11.12MM). The Jags will still attempt to see how he looks with Trevor Lawrence.

A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, Ridley is on the older end for a 2018 draftee as well. The 6-foot-1 pass catcher will be 29 before his first Jaguars season ends. The Jags will still provide a landing spot for the embattled pass catcher, who did not finish the 2021 season with the Falcons. Ridley left the team for personal reasons midway through the year. With that preceding his gambling ban, it is fairly surprising a team is willing to trade for him. Ridley must wait until February 2023 to apply for reinstatement.

When available in Atlanta, Ridley looked like one of the NFL’s top young receivers. The ex-Julio Jones sidekick posted back-to-back 800-plus-yard seasons with Matt Ryan in 2018 and ’19 and broke through in 2020, hauling in 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. That came during a season in which Jones’ hamstring trouble began to become a regular issue, leading to Ridley’s rise into Ryan’s top weapon. Not too much time has passed since that point, but the Falcons have completely closed the book on this period.

Atlanta has now traded Jones, Ryan and Ridley within a 17-month span. The team also let Thomas Dimitroff-era draftee Russell Gage sign with Tampa Bay. The Falcons still roster Olamide Zaccheaus from the previous era but now have a new quarterback and new top playmakers. GM Terry Fontenot chose Kyle Pitts and Drake London in the top 10 over the past two years. The Falcons will sink or swim with those rookie-contract performers catching passes, though the team is using a run-oriented attack with Marcus Mariota presently.

The Jaguars gave Kirk a four-year, $72MM deal but also signed Zay Jones to a three-year, $24MM accord this offseason. The team has 2021 free agency addition Marvin Jones playing out his contract. Kirk still resides atop Jacksonville’s long-term aerial pecking order, but the Jags have made an interesting splash to see if it can land a high-end supplementary piece in Ridley. Between Kirk and Ridley, the latter’s 2020 season represents the only 1,000-yard showing. It remains to be seen if the 2018 first-rounder can show that form again.

Eagles, Falcons Nearly Completed Calvin Ridley Trade

Calvin Ridley‘s gambling suspension, which comes after his extended 2021 hiatus, has thrown his career off course. But the former first-round pick had generated trade interest prior to the ban.

The Eagles discussed Ridley with the Falcons, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, who notes the sides nearly completed a deal (Twitter link). The Falcons backed out of the talks, with Glazer adding the NFC South team did not say why. The looming suspension, which became known this week, almost certainly played a role in scuttling the trade. Indeed, the Falcons learning of this significant Ridley hurdle factored into the trade not happening, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets, noting the Eagles were in the lead among Ridley suitors this offseason.

While the Eagles have used first-round picks on wide receivers in each of the past two years, they can still be considered needy at the position. DeVonta Smith has fared far better than Jalen Reagor, and despite the NFL expanding its season to 17 games, Philly only saw one wideout (Smith) surpass 650 receiving yards in 2021. The Eagles also appear to have whiffed with their 2019 second-round pick of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. It is safe to say the Eagles will add a notable name here this offseason, potentially with one of their three first-round picks. But Ridley is certainly off the radar for the foreseeable future.

Ridley joined Hall of Famers Paul Hornung and Alex Karras, former Colts first-round quarterback Art Schlichter and cornerback Josh Shaw as NFL players suspended for gambling. Ridley’s fifth-year option will toll to 2023, keeping him tied to the Falcons. Though, it is far from certain if he will ever play with Atlanta again. Ridley will be 28 when next eligible to play.

After surpassing 800 yards in each of his first two seasons, Ridley broke out for 1,374 and nine touchdown catches in 2020, a season in which Julio Jones struggled with a hamstring injury. Ridley landed on the Falcons’ Non-Football Injury list last year, stepping away from the team because of a mental health issue. Trade rumblings regarding Ridley surfaced in January, and the Eagles were one of the teams to pursue a swap. But the Alabama alum’s stock has undoubtedly taken a hit this week, leaving the Falcons shorthanded at receiver. Russell Gage is set to hit free agency next week.

NFL Suspends Calvin Ridley For Betting On Games

The NFL has suspended Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley for at least the 2022 season for betting on NFL games. In a statement, the league indicated that Ridley’s betting took place “during a five-day period in November 2021.”

By that point of the campaign, Ridley was away from the team, having been placed on the Non-Football Injury List. Personal matters and mental health were cited as the reasons for his absence. By January, it had been reported that a trade of the team’s top wideout was a distinct possibility, though the team publicly declared its intentions of keeping the former first rounder. Knowledge of this issue appears to have played a role in the fact that serious trade talks didn’t take place.

The statement noted that the league’s investigation into the matter “uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way” nor that there was “any awareness by coaches, staff, teammates, or other players of Ridley’s betting activity”. A tweet from Ridley himself indicates that he wagered $1,500 total.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Ridley’s wagers consisted of parlay bets, and that some of those “included the Falcons to win” (Twitter link). Mike Garafolo of NFL Network adds that the league has the ability to “work with their gambling partners to gather information on potential violations”, and that it was through such communication that Ridley was caught (video link).

In response, the Falcons released a statement which says in part: “We were first made aware of the league’s investigation on Feb. 9. We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league’s findings and actions. We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made.”

Ridley, 27, can appeal the suspension within the next three days, though he tweeted “I learn from my Ls” in response to the news. Assuming the ban is upheld, the earliest he can apply for reinstatement is February 15, 2023. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero adds that his contract — the fifth-year option worth $11.1MM — will now toll to the 2023 season, meaning the Falcons will gain that much in cap space for 2022.

A member of what was viewed as an underwhelming draft class, Ridley quickly established himself as a highly-productive receiver. His best year came in 2020 (90 catches, 1,374 yards, nine touchdowns), leading to plenty of optimism for himself and the Falcons’ offense. After everything that has happened since, however, the situation has been completely reversed.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Jets, Douglas, Jackson

On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul made comments that all but guaranteed that an agreement for a new stadium for the Bills will be made soon, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Highmark Stadium (previously Rich Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium, and New Era Field) has been the home of the Bills since 1973. The Bills’ current lease on Highmark expires in 2023 and the franchise has been pushing with many government entities to build them a shiny, new stadium. The team has used the very real looming threat that there are plenty of other markets in the country that can support an NFL franchise.

Hochul commented on that threat saying, “That’s why we’re negotiating very intently, to make sure we have the right outcome for this community.” The new stadium will partially be funded by the public to the tune of about $850MM. The Governor claims that a deal will be done by April 1, in time for the annual budget.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple of notes that keep us in the Empire State:

  • The Jets are planning to use this offseason to add some weapons to the roster for quarterback Zach Wilson. They currently have Corey Davis and Elijah Moore sitting atop the depth chart. They would love to bring back Braxton Berrios as a fourth-receiver/gadget player and they haven’t yet given up on Denzel Mims. Still, New York will have ample opportunity to add a potential No. 1 receiver to the roster, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. The free agent market is home to many household names like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Mike Williams, and, potentially, Amari Cooper. Players like Calvin Ridley and Cole Beasley have been rumored to be available via trade. The 2022 NFL Draft is also so rich in talented receivers that many believe some first round talent could fall to the second round where the Jets have two high picks, if they don’t choose to take a top prospect like Garrett Wilson or Drake London with the 10th overall pick.
  • That being said, Vacchiano also reports that, despite their vast spending ability, general manager Joe Douglas has been preaching the maintenance of financial flexibility. Though the Jets rank in the Top 5 in the NFL in salary cap space, Douglas rejected the notion that their $50-60MM in cap space will be dedicated to big spending in free agency. Douglas acknowledged free agency as just one of “a lot of different tools to improve your roster” and pointed to the Bengals as an example of responsible free agent spending. “I think Cincy did great in free agency last year,” he said. “They didn’t blow the doors off in terms of signing super high-priced guys. They brought in guys who fit exactly what they wanted to do.”
  • According to Mike Giardi of NFL Network, Patriots’ cornerback JC Jackson is likely headed for free agency with some lofty expectations. While Jackson still likes the Patriots, money is a big factor for the 26-year-old. Giardi claims that Jackson is strictly seeking compensation similar to Jalen Ramsey. New England won’t bring that money to the table and it sounds like they won’t be utilizing their franchise tag on Jackson, either. That information could lead to a tag and trade situation if other teams aren’t willing to shell out for Jackson in free agency.

Latest On Falcons WR Calvin Ridley

It’s uncertain if Calvin Ridley will be sticking around Atlanta. However, if the Falcons have their way, they’d naturally want their wideout to stay with the organization.

“We love the young man,” said owner Arthur Blank (via the team’s website). “He has had a great history in Atlanta. We’d love him to stay in Atlanta. Whether or not he wants to do that — he may decide that he wants a fresh start someplace else. We don’t know that. I don’t know that. I don’t have information to indicate that, but we’ll see how that plays out.

“We’ve been totally supportive in every way that we can be, both emotionally and financially in working with him as well as his agent. We’ll see, but I’m mostly concerned about him as a human being.”

The wideout announced in late October that he’d be stepping away from football to deal with his mental health. Nothing has really changed since that time, although we heard recently that Ridley hadn’t had a whole lot of communication with the Falcons. That report indicated that the receiver could be seeking a fresh start elsewhere, although there wasn’t a definitive trade request or anything.

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.

Latest On Falcons WR Calvin Ridley

The next time we see Calvin Ridley, he could be in a different uniform. While the Falcons are still holding out hope that the receiver will eventually return to the team, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo believes a trade could be in the cards (Twitter link).

The wideout announced in late October that he’d be stepping away from football to deal with his mental health. Nothing has really changed since that time, and according to Garafolo, there hasn’t been a whole lot of communication between Ridley’s camp and the Falcons organization. Eventually, the Falcons are going to need to touch base with Ridley and figure out whether his return is realistic.

Ultimately, a fresh start could end up being the preferred option for Ridley. Per Garafolo, while the receiver has no ill will towards the team, he’s dealing with personal things that could (somewhat) be remedied by getting traded elsewhere.

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.

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.

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.