Former Falcons All-Pro among PFF’s players with most to prove in 2024

NFL: OCT 15 Colts at Jaguars

One of the bigger storylines this offseason for the Falcons was their compensation from the Calvin Ridley trade.

Last offseason, Atlanta moved the former first-round pick to Jacksonville in a deal that included a fifth-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder that would become a third if Ridley hit certain playing time thresholds and then into a second-round pick if he signed an extension with the Jaguars before free agency.

As the offseason progressed, it looked as if Ridley and Trent Baalke were waiting until the free agency period began before inking a new deal. It made sense too. Why would Ridley actively hurt his new team by costing them a second-round pick instead of a third?

Well, it was something else entirely because the former All-Pro pass catcher was unknowingly a hot commodity. Eventually, Ridley spurned the Jaguars in favor of the Titans in the form of a four-year, $92 million contract.

Jacksonville traded Atlanta a Day 2 and Day 3 pick for 76 receptions for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns from Ridley. While the receiving market is going bananas with the likes of Justin Jefferson, Jaylen Waddle, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and A.J. Brown, $22 million per year for Calvin Ridley was a bit rich in most people’s eyes.

That’s why Pro Football Focus included the former Falcons star among the NFL’s 10 players with the most to prove in 2024:

Ridley signed a lucrative four-year, $92 million deal with the Titans this offseason, but his stock has taken a definitive slide since 2021. After missing all of the 2022 season due to a suspension for violating the NFL’s gambling policy, Ridley didn’t look like a dynamic wideout last year, finishing with a 72.2 receiving grade — 38th among 56 receivers with at least 75 targets — and dropping 8.4% of passes thrown his way.

Still just 29, Ridley seems to have plenty left in the tank in terms of longevity. After all, it’s not out of the question to expect him to look like the stellar version of himself we saw in 2020, especially playing next to DeAndre Hopkins. But if Ridley’s 2024 looks like his 2023 did, more questions will swirl about his long-term skill and worth.

Will Levis has Brian Callahan calling plays, legendary coach Bill Callahan leading the offensive line, and DeAndre Hopkins, Tyler Boyd, and Calvin Ridley catching passes.

It’s an offense that has the potential to be a surprisingly good unit, depending on your opinion of Levis. A lot of Ridley’s projections depend on his signal caller developing into a quality thrower.

Very rarely do receivers overcome poor quarterback play. So yes, Calvin Ridley does have a lot to prove in 2024, but some of it is out of his control.

Photographer: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

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