Ex-Falcons WR Calvin Ridley has been the ‘star of Jaguars training camp’

NFL: JUL 27 Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp

After a lengthy absence away from the game, Calvin Ridley is back playing football and looks better than ever at Jaguars training camp in his first season since the Falcons traded him.

It cost Jacksonville a 2023 fifth-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2024 that could rise as high as a second-round pick if the club signs Ridley to an extension, which grows increasingly likely by the day.

He’s missed nearly two years and 28 total contests, but there’s clearly no rust. According to ESPN’s Michael DiRocco, Ridley has been the star of training camp with teammates hurling praise his way.

“Just watching him [and] the way he runs, there are not many guys like that, especially in and out of his breaks,” Trevor Lawrence said. “He’s just really crafty [and] has great ball skills.”

Going from Matt Ryan in his twilight years to Trevor Lawrence just entering his prime has to be one of the more dramatic changes for a pass catcher. Ridley isn’t only impressing his quarterback, but his head coach is also positive he can return to that elite level we saw in 2020 — when he caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns.

“Ridley on offense, just the way he practices is just a different speed and a different level,” Doug Pederson said. “It’s encouraging to me as a coach because it feeds to the rest of the guys, particularly the young guys. He’s one that’s really stood out there.”

It might sting a bit to see Calvin Ridley thrive with another team, but at this point, Falcons fans need to be rooting for the new marriage to work because a contract extension nets Atlanta a second-round pick. Getting a WR1 nowadays for a fifth-round and second-round pick is highway robbery, but this wasn’t as simple of a trade as Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, and Davante Adams were.

Ridley was suspended and hadn’t played in quite some time. Moreover, it’s quite possible the Falcons left some meat on the bone. It was reported that he was given six or seven trade destinations by his former team. Though it may not have been much more, it’s entirely plausible that the Falcons acquiesced to Ridley’s preference at the expense of maximizing trade compensation.

Photographer: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

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