Hey, remember the news about Calvin Ridley being suspended for at least the 2022 season due to betting on Atlanta Falcons games? Kind of feels like forever ago when you consider how it was overshadowed by major developments such as Aaron Rodgers returning to the Green Bay Packers, Russell Wilson being traded to the Denver Broncos, Carson Wentz returning to the NFC East, etc.
But the Ridley news is worth revisiting in the context of the Philadelphia Eagles. As it turns out, the Birds were actually close to trading for him at one point this offseason. NFL insider Jay Glazer recently revealed as much to John Clark on the take off podcast.
JOHN CLARK: Were they looking to get another receiver to complement DeVonta Smith and Quez Waktins?
JAY GLAZER: It was actually funny because they were one of the teams, they were close to a deal with Atlanta for Calvin Ridley, and Atlanta backed out at the last second. And Philly was like, ‘What’s going on?’ And they couldn’t really tell them. And so Philly wasn’t too happy but after [the Ridley suspension news broke] was like, OK, Atlanta did business the right way. They weren’t allowed to say anything, the legalities of it. They weren’t allowed to say a word. They just had to pull out. But, man, Philly could’ve gotten Calvin Ridley if he didn’t have these issues, that would’ve been good for them. But, again, Howie is always really aggressive. That would’ve been big. […]
JOHN CLARK: And that would’ve been really bad if Calvin Ridley was traded and the Falcons didn’t know about it and this comes down.
JAY GLAZER: That’s the thing, they knew about it early enough. Yeah, it would’ve been interesting, what would’ve happened. Because they knew about it a few weeks ago when they were getting close and then just pulled out but couldn’t say anything. So, Philly was held in the dark for a couple weeks. They thought they had a better deal. And Atlanta just had to keep quiet. Atlanta did business the right way and so did Philly.
Glazer also tweeted this:
Yup, Eagles almost had deal done for Calvin Ridley last month… Falcons backed out but weren’t able to tell Eagles why. They actually handled it great and after a lot of confusion Philly respected them for how they handled a very different situation. Eagles swung away @NFLonFOX
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) March 10, 2022
Some more context from NFL Network:
Bama ties with the #Eagles (assistant coach Joe Pannunzio a big factor) had Philly confidant Calvin Ridley would work well and had them at the front of the line but the #Falcons learned Calvin Ridley was in trouble. Atlanta was “awesome” with how they handled, per Eagles source. https://t.co/4UUhw6DtCj
—Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 10, 2022
It would’ve been terribly bad form for the Falcons to know about the impending Ridley punishment and trade him anyway. The short-term gain of getting one over on the Eagles would be met with a long-term loss of Philly never trusting their organization ever again. Not to mention any potential grievances that would be filed.
But what if Ridley’s gambling wasn’t discovered until after the Eagles got him? That would’ve been pretty tough for the Eagles. Talk about dodging a bullet.
The Eagles’ interest in Ridley is, well, interesting. Philly certainly needs more help at wide receiver considering DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins are their only viable options at that position.
Ridley is obviously a talented player. The 2018 first-round pick (No. 26 overall) was second-team All-Pro in 2020 with 90 receptions for 1,374 yards (15.3 average) and nine touchdowns. With Julio Jones traded to Tennessee, he could’ve posted big numbers again in 2021 had he not stepped away for mental health reasons after playing in just five games.
But while Ridley’s talent isn’t in question, one can question the sense in the Eagles trading for him. And I’m talking about even before we knew about the gambling suspension. The Eagles presumably would’ve paid a significant cost (at least a 2022 second-round pick, perhaps?) to acquire a 27-year-old making $11.1 million this season. Considering he was on the last year of his deal, they probably would’ve wanted to sign him to a contract extension. It would be interesting to see them use premium resources on another volume passing target when the Eagles are coming off a season when:
1) They’re coming off a season with the lowest passing play percentage in the NFL.
2) They already underutilize their top two volume passing targets in DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert.
It’s also interesting to think about what the Eagles’ interest in Ridley means moving forward. Do they try to make a run at him if/when he’s reinstated in 2023? Are they looking at other high-end receiver options on the free agent market?