Falcons: In the absence of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley has solid chance of making Pro Bowl debut in 2021

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Believe it or not, Calvin Ridley has yet to appear at the Pro Bowl, but I have that changing in 2021. Last season, Ridley was given second-team All-Pro honors after recording 90 receptions, 1,374 yards, and nine touchdowns, which should’ve been enough to earn him a trip to the Pro Bowl. As you may know, Pro Bowl voting is done by the coaches, the players themselves, and the fans — each group’s ballots count for one-third of the votes. As you can imagine, this can cause some disagreements among those who do and don’t deserve the accolade.

For example, Justin Jefferson had one of the most prolific rookie seasons we’ve ever seen and rightfully deserved every award and honor he received — second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl. The former LSU Tiger hauled in 88 receptions for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns, which in my estimation, is a slightly inferior final stat line to Ridley’s season. The fact is, stories garner votes, and Jefferson was a great story.

Players and coaches can be equally biased in their voting as fans, and Jefferson bursting on the scene took the league by storm, including his Griddy celebration. There was also the fact that the entire NFL family fell in love with DK Metcalf, particularly after his sensational run down of a Budda Baker interception. Ridley was quiet and went about his business on a losing team; the story wasn’t generating enough traction.

Side note: because Ridley missed out on 2021 Pro Bowl honors, he’s earning less money in his fifth-year option. His option will cost $11,116,000. The NFL uses a formula based on snaps and other accolades to determine how much a player’s fifth-year option is worth. For instance, Ridley warranted the ‘playtime’ designation, but if he had made the Pro Bowl last season — a year he made Second-Team All-Pro — his fifth-year option would’ve cost Atlanta $14,340,000 in 2022.

Playtime: These players will be eligible for a fifth year base salary calculated from the average of the 3rd to 20th highest salaries at their position over the past five seasons, provided that their snap counts over their first three seasons meet one of the following three criteria:

  • 75% or greater in two of their first three seasons
  • an average of 75% or greater over all three seasons
  • 50% or greater over all three seasons

Ridley missed out on over $3 million because of clearly biased voting. Now that Julio Jones is a member of the Tennessee Titans, Ridley has every opportunity to earn his first nod to the Pro Bowl. He’ll surely receive more targets now that Jones is gone, and the offense is going to be more productive than a year ago. Barring injury, Ridley should be one of the betting favorites to make the NFC roster.


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