After serving a year-long suspension for gambling on NFL games, including a Falcons-Jaguars game, while he was on the non-football injury list due to his mental health, Calvin Ridley is gearing up for his first season outside of Atlanta.
In Jacksonville, Ridley will join an ascending offense led by Trevor Lawrence and Doug Pederson; it’s set up to be quite the bounce back campaign for the former first-round pick, and nobody’s more confident than Ridley.
#Jaguars WR Calvin Rildey says he's used the last two years to get healthier, faster, stronger and wiser:
“I’m a 1,400-yard receiver with a broke foot. You know what I'm saying? I know I can make the plays and I know that I’m one of the better receivers in this league.”
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) April 19, 2023
Ridley posted 90 catches, 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020 while recently revealing in a letter featured in the Players Tribune that he played that entire season with a broken foot, which set off a chain of events that led to his suspension.
Everyone he’d ever known in the NFL was fired — coaches, training staff, etc. — during that same season. Once the new regime took over shortly after, his mentor and best friend on the team, Julio Jones, would also depart. Now, everyone was looking to him to be the man in Atlanta. But he was still hurt.
Ridley stated he rushed the recovery process to be ready for the 2021 season, forcing it with the help of painkillers. Mind you, the man’s foot is still not right. Ridley decided to gut it out with the new regime, taking anything he could to numb the pain and be on the field. His body was still broken, and he was a shell of himself, failing to record more than 80 yards in a single game.
The rest doesn’t need to be drummed up again. Now, Calvin Ridley is back healthy mentally and physically, and every Falcons fan should be rooting for him and his new team because of the trade compensation.
The Falcons stood to receive a fifth-round pick so long as he was reinstated by a certain date; however, the significant compensation is tied to Ridley’s play in 2023.
The Falcons get a fourth-rounder if he makes the team, which is likely a guarantee. The club receives a third-rounder if Ridley hits certain playing time marks, which is unknown. And the highest compensation would be a second-rounder if the Jaguaras and Ridley agree to a new deal.
Outside of just being a decent human, Falcons fans should root for Calvin Ridley because it directly affects the club. If he balls out in Jacksonville, the Jaguars will be motivated to work out a new contract for the former first-round pick, which would immediately benefit the Falcons. Everyone in Atlanta should be cheering for that scenario.
We wish Ridley the best in his new challenge with Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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