Falcons: Calvin Ridley still regarded as one of the best route runners in NFL

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One topic many Falcons fans haven’t heard about in a while is Calvin Ridley, who is serving a one-year suspension for gambling on football last year. Ridley initially took time away from Atlanta for his mental wellbeing, and while away from the team, he placed multiple wagers, resulting in a swift and harsh punishment from the league. The NFL didn’t want to set a bad precedent by handling these situations lightly, which has caused quite the stir from fans considering Deshaun Watson‘s suspension was far less severe. I digress, though.

Even without stepping on the field this year, Ridley’s name is still in conversations. In an interview with Jordan Shultz, Amari Cooper named Ridley as one of the league’s five-best route runners, among some other impressive players — Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, and Jerry Jeudy.

Calvin Ridley will have to apply for reinstatement when the new league year rolls around but is still under contract with the Falcons. When his eligibility is reinstated, the Falcons — having the rights to his fifth-year option — will have a decision to make. Prior to the gambling fiasco, I’m positive the team would’ve welcomed him back with open arms. However, the circumstances have certainly changed.

For a knee-jerk reaction, I don’t think Ridley ever plays for the Falcons again; it’s just hard to imagine. But this regime is new, and anything can happen. Arthur Blank, Terry Fontenot, and Arthur Smith could choose to forgive and forget — time heals all things. The Falcons could decide making amends with Ridley is the best option for them, or they could lean towards trading him. I honestly could see it going either way.

Atlanta is in the early stages of a rebuild, vowing to remain competitive throughout the process. They’ve traded every bloated contract inherited from the old regime, including two of the greatest players in franchise history — Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. It certainly makes sense after drafting Drake London to ship Ridley off to save cap space and acquire draft assets. He’ll need a new contract following the 2023 season, so they might be inclined to replace him with a younger, cheaper version.

At this point, I’d say Ridley is done in Atlanta, reserving the right to change my mind. Again, this is a new regime, and we don’t know how they’ll handle these types of situations.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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