The Jacksonville Jaguars provided us with the shock of the 2022 NFL trade deadline, as they are trading for Atlanta Falcons suspended wide receiver Calvin Ridley. In March, Ridley was for betting on NFL games during his absence from football. He can apply for reinstatement in February.
As for what Jacksonville is giving up for the wideout, it’s a bit complicated. NFL Media reports that if Ridley is reinstated by a certain date, Atlanta will receive a 2023 fifth-round pick. If he is not reinstated by the date, it’s a 2023 sixth-round pick. Then, if Ridley makes the team in 2024, the Falcons will receive a fourth-round pick. If he hits a playing-time milestone, it’s a third-round pick. If the Jaguars get a long-term deal done with Ridley, the pick turns into a second-rounder.
Ridley stepped away from the Falcons after just five games in 2021 citing mental health reasons. This past offseason was when his gambling violation came to light. Interestingly enough, Ridley actually included his Falcons to beat the Jaguars last year in Week 12 in a parlay, when Atlanta defeated Jacksonville, 21-14, per The Ringer.
The former first-round pick out of Alabama recorded at least 821 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons, and then had a career-year in 2020 with 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns.
Ridley’s future with the Falcons has been in question for some time now, and then Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence could always use more weapons. Below, we will attempt to grade this trade.
Ridley caught his last pass for the Falcons on Oct. 24, 2021. I would venture to guess that he probably wanted a new start somewhere else. Atlanta already started to build a new wide receiving corps with Drake London, Damiere Byrd and Bryan Edwards, and hey, the Falcons are currently sitting atop the NFC South at 4-4!
I like how many conditions there are on this deal. Best-case scenario, the Falcons will receive a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick. Worst-case scenario, Atlanta gets a sixth-round pick, and Ridley doesn’t even make the Jaguars roster in 2024. You could argue that’s decent value for a player who hasn’t played for your team in over a year.
Ridley will be 28 when he puts on a Jags helmet for the first time. When you look at the stats from his first four seasons, Ridley looks like a legitimate No. 1. He was sixth in receiving yards in 2020, which ranked higher than big names like DK Metcalf, Tyreek Hill, Terry McLaurin and A.J. Brown. You have to imagine Ridley will be rejuvenated with this change of scenery, but at the same time, it’s fair to wonder if this addition is a sure thing.
No one should hate on someone who steps away to take care of their mental health, but it remains to be seen if Ridley has been able to get back into the right headspace to play football. He’s a legitimate talent, and this is one of the sneaky good moves no one expected to be made at the trade deadline.