It may not be too much longer before we see wide receiver Calvin Ridley back on an NFL field. The talented pass catcher is allowed to apply for reinstatement after serving a one-year suspension for gambling on NFL games.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the league approaches his application, and whether they will look for additional penance before allowing him to suit up.
The 2021 season was a difficult time for Ridley personally. He was dealing with some mental health issues during the campaign, and took a leave of absence from the team in order to address it.
It was discovered that during a five-day period in November of that season, Ridley bet on NFL games. He was still away from the team at that point. As one might imagine, the league did not look too kindly upon this, as anything that puts the legitimacy of their on-field product into question is something they would deal with swiftly.
As a result, Ridley was suspended for the entire 2022 season.
The Surprising Transaction
Before his turbulent 2021 campaign, Ridley was establishing himself as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. The former Alabama Crimson Tide pass-catcher hauled in at least seven touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. It seemed like he was only getting better, as his average yards per catch increased during that time frame as well.
The Atlanta Falcons seemed to have a future superstar under their wings. Even though they transitioned into rebuilding mode, the team figured to want to retain Ridley as a cornerstone player.
That turned out to not be the case, as the Falcons’ front office took calls from teams looking to acquire Ridley. Atlanta struck an agreement with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who despite Ridley’s uncertain playing status, jumped at the chance to bring in someone of his caliber. Compensation for Atlanta is tied to whether Ridley is reinstated, and how much/well he plays when he returns.
Ridley’s Football Future
Before anything else happens, the league will need to assess whether Ridley is at risk of committing the same infraction again, which might trigger a more severe penalty. If he’s allowed to play for the Jaguars, his presence on that team will be one of the most intriguing offseason developments.
Ridley’s resume before his suspension was impressive, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how well he will play after such a lengthy layoff. It might take him some time to get back up to speed with the NFL game.
If he is able to reacclimate quickly, then Jacksonville all of a sudden becomes something of a darkhorse in the AFC next year. With all due respect to the current pass-catchers on their roster, Ridley far and away has the most ability. He would give quarterback Trevor Lawrence a legitimate deep threat that defenses would have to lose sleep game-planning against. Ridley might also face double teams, which would open things up for his teammates.