Superbowl 56 is just a couple of days away. I am excited to see Joe “Brrrr” Burrow and the Bengals take on Matthew Stafford (in his first-ever SB appearance) and the Rams but I’ve still managed to do a bit of peeking ahead into next season. One of the storylines that are likely to be the talk of the offseason is what may be done with Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley. And of course, my interest is fantasy-driven. Can you blame me?
Calvin Ridley left the middle of the 2021 season to address some mental health issues but never returned at any point after Week 7. Ridley staying quiet along the way gave fans and the front office a pulse on what was going on. Recently, owner Arthur Blank spoke on the situation with the receiver, showing full support for Ridley while he was taking care of himself.
One thing in Mr. Blanks’s words did resonate with a lot of people. In the latter part of his comment, he said that Ridley “may want to have a fresh start somewhere else”. Say what?!? If that could be the case, it would put another top-tier wide receiver on the market next season.
But what would it cost to trade for the Falcons wideout?
To begin, let’s look at Ridley’s contract. Calvin Ridley was originally signed through the 2022 season. Because Ridley was placed on the NFI list, his contract can be rolled over by the Falcons. This means that the Falcons can essentially say that the 2021 season didn’t happen on his contract and would get the 2022 option year at the 2021 year price that was nearly two million dollars. The Falcoholics Matthew Chambers breaks down the details even further. With the total pricing of the remainder of Ridley’s contract at about $13 million, that’s a cheap price to get one of the young, higher-end wide receivers in the game right now. This would also push Ridley’s contract through the 2023 season thus making him a free agent in the 2024 season.
Now let’s talk trade price.
There have been a few trade offer scenarios being thrown around since the possibility of Calvin Ridley being traded became newsworthy. An article from Heavy.com has a team having to give up second and third-round picks for the Falcons wide receiver. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, after speaking with one league executive that a “conditional second-round pick (that could turn into a first-rounder)” could be in the mix for Ridley in a trade offer as well. So it looks like if a team wants to get in on a trade for Calvin Ridley, the trading range could be anywhere from a potential first-round pick to a third (or some combination of these). If you look at the other side, you still get Ridley on the cheap end through the 2023 season.
Now, who could benefit from Calvin Ridley’s services? Here are my five landing spots for Calvin Ridley:
Kansas City Chiefs
If we’ve learned anything from watching the Chiefs over the last couple of seasons it’s that their offense under Patrick Mahomes is dynamic and one of the best in the league. However, it’s not without weaknesses. One of which is the lack of weapons behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. There isn’t another option behind those two guys that allows Mahomes to target with consistency when the others are being covered. Those lack of options put Mahomes in bad spots over the first half of the season. During that span, Mahomes threw 10 interceptions over the first eight weeks of the season.
Adding Calvin Ridley would not only give Mahomes and the Chiefs another offensive weapon but would give defenses another worry to cover during games. Let’s face it, hate him or love him, Mecole Hardman isn’t going to be the answer. The Chiefs even went out and grabbed Josh Gordon off of the pile and never bothered to use him. Byron Pringle did show some flashes this season but he’s certainly “not that guy pal, trust me”. Plus giving up a first-rounder would put the Chiefs on the Los Angeles Rams style of trading since the Chiefs too always pick in the back of the draft.
This should really be a layup for the Eagles. The team is desperately in need of another option at receiver after trotting out Quez Watkins and the 2020 bust in Jalen Reagor just to name a few. If the Eagles are serious about building up quarterback Jalen Hurts, they’ll need to add another weapon on the outside. And since they’re armed with three first-round picks, sending one of those over for a proven wide receiver like Calvin Ridley makes the most sense.
The Eagles, per OverTheCap.com, have nearly $22 million in cap space heading into the 2022 season so adding Ridley’s $13 million contract would be one of the easiest (and smartest) moves for Howie Roseman to pull off. That would also allow the Eagles to focus more on rebuilding the defense in the draft if they should choose to go that route.
The Colts are another team that could use another wide receiver to help out their passing game. Let’s be real, T.Y. Hilton is no spring chicken and was even contemplating retiring before the beginning of the 2021 season. Heading into 2022, Hilton will be 33 years old in November. The Colts have had to deal with injuries at the wide receiver position quite a few times last season as Hilton and Parris Campbell, for example, missed time. Michael Pittman was the one consistent wideout in the group. Sending a first or second-round pick for Calvin Ridley with the seventh most cap space would be a big move for the Colts to get back into competition with the Tennessee Titans, who won the division last season.
It would also help out Carson Wentz, who is looking to stay in the NFL after GM Chris Ballard was non-committal on the quarterback position after the Colts fizzled out down the stretch. Arming Wentz (or whoever ends up being the quarterback in 2022) with the combo of Pittman and Ridley would be a nice look. Plus you still have Jonathan Taylor leading that running game and a good Colts defense.
Los Angeles Chargers
I won’t lie as the Chargers are one of my favorite spots for Ridley to land. Not only does Ridley get to play with one of the best quarterback talents in the league in Justin Herbert but he could potentially become the new number one receiver for the future of the Chargers. Keenan Allen is still playing at an elite level but he’ll turn 30 before the start of the 2022 regular season. On top of that, fellow Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams is set to hit free agency too. If the team decides not to bring him back on a new deal, Ridley could slide right in Mike Williams’s old spot as the number two receiver on the team.
The Chargers are another team with plenty of cap space to add a premier wide receiver like Ridley as they sit at $56 million in cap space (4th most cap space in the NFL). The Chargers finished 3rd in passing yards last season so there’s no doubt that Calvin Ridley wouldn’t be involved in the offense right away after being acquired.
Being a Cowboys fan, I don’t want Calvin Ridley anywhere near the NFC East. But if I’m being honest, to say the Philadelphia Eagles have a shot to land Ridley it would be unfair to miss on what the Commanders could do with Calvin Ridley on the squad. Now we know the Washington Commanders (seriously it took them two years to come up with his name) need a quarterback so we realize that’s an obstacle. That aside, adding Ridley would improve the offense overall. Pairing Terry McLaurin and Calvin Ridley could be one of the most dangerous wide receiver combinations in the league.
So far, the current wide receiver two Curtis Samuel didn’t work out with the team as he dealt with injuries that kept him out for much of the season. There also isn’t much behind McLaurin and Samuel in terms of talent but that could also lend itself to the limitations at the quarterback position with Taylor Heinicke under center. Washington has a few issues to fix on the offensive side of the ball but landing Calvin Ridley would be a good start. Then going after a quarterback would be the next smart move. However, we are talking about Washington so I wouldn’t hold my breath for them to make smart moves.