Falcons free agent targets who can replace Calvin Ridley

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If you somehow haven’t heard yet, the Falcons have a glaring need for pass catchers in wake of the league’s suspension of Calvin Ridley for at least the 2022 season for gambling on NFL games during his time away from the team.

The Falcons were already thin at the position going into the offseason, and now it’s become one of the most pressing needs on the roster. There is a silver lining within this entire situation; since the suspension is a full year, Ridley’s current contract will toll, which means his $11.1 million salary that should’ve been on the books for 2022 will now push to 2023.

The $11.1 million in cap space created puts the Falcons approximately $3.8 million under the league’s $208.2 million salary cap. With that extra cap space, the Falcons will be able to test the free agent market to replace Ridley’s production.

Allen Robinson II

Robinson has had a peculiar career. Despite catching passes from some horrible quarterbacks over the years, he consistently puts up impressive numbers. 2021 was no different. In a woeful passing offense, Robinson posted the worst numbers of his career; however, the blame shouldn’t be placed on him. He’s still a WR1 in this league. Though he might be more expensive than other free agents on this list, Robinson would provide great value if the Falcons can sign him for around $15 million APY.

Antonio Brown

Even at 33 years old, AB is still an incredibly productive receiver. Through the first five weeks of the 2021 season, Brown recorded at least 90 receiving yards and a touchdown in three games. There are obvious risks associated with a player like Brown, and the Falcons have had back-to-back tumultuous offseasons. However, given the Falcons’ small budget, Brown could provide a ton of value.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu plays a valuable role as a tough slot receiver. Smith-Schuster has shown to be a sure-handed target on third downs, and he doesn’t mind doing the dirty work that eludes some receivers. He’d be a great fit in Arthur Smith’s offense, and he could be looking for a one-year, prove-it deal after missing much of the 2021 season to injury.

DJ Chark Jr

Chark may be looking for a similar deal as JuJu after an ankle injury he suffered in Week 4 kept him out for the remainder of the season. However, a receiver standing 6-foot-4 with 4.3 speed will absolutely garner intrigue from teams around the league. Chark hasn’t developed into much more than a deep threat, but the Falcons need someone to threaten defenses in that capacity.


Olamide Zaccheaus, Russell Gage, Rashard Higgens, Byron Pringle, Allen Lazard, Will Fuller, Zach Pascal, Zay Jones, Jakobi Meyers, Kalif Raymond, Albert Wilson, Tre’Quan Smith 

Zaccheaus and Gage might be guaranteed to return to Atlanta on new deals, given their familiarity with Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense. Lazard is a restricted free agent, but he embodies the same toughness that JuJu Smith-Schuster has from the slot. Fuller is a similar type of receiver as DJ Chark — a deep threat. Pascal, Jones, and Raymond are all physical wideouts that can play on the boundary for the Falcons.

Regardless of where the Falcons find value, fans can absolutely expect Terry Fontenot to add to the receiver room this offseason.



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