Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley left the the team for the second and final time last season on Halloween. The Falcons were scheduled to play the Carolina Panthers when he let the team know that morning he was stepping away for personal reasons.
Ridley didn’t return to the Falcons, but owner Arthur Blank would welcome back to the team in 2022.
“We love the young man,” Blank told AtlantaFalcons.com. “He has had a great history in Atlanta. We’d love him to stay in Atlanta. Whether or not he wants to do that — he may decide that he wants a fresh start someplace else. We don’t know that. I don’t know that. I don’t have information to indicate that, but we’ll see how that plays out.
“We’ve been totally supportive in every way that we can be, both emotionally and financially in working with him as well as his agent. We’ll see, but I’m mostly concerned about him as a human being.”
There have been multiple offseason reports that Ridley and the Falcons will want a fresh start if and when he returns to football. Blank mentioned that the Falcons have supported Ridley financially, but he was due a hefty-pay increase from a $1.97 million base salary in 2021 to a fully guaranteed $11.1 million base salary in 2022.
Ridley for his part hasn’t issued a public word since his initial social media announcement that he was stepping away.
The Falcoholic did an excellent job of breaking down the options the Falcons will have with Ridley’s contract, and they’re not on hook for the $11.1 million since Ridley didn’t play enough games in 2021.
But it sounds like Blank would be willing to honor that deal and not roll over his 2021 contract if Ridley were to return to the Falcons. The 2020 version of Ridley that saw him post 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns would certainly be a bargain at $11.1 million.
Will Ridley ever be that player again? That’s the question the Falcons and other teams interested in making a move for Ridley have to ask. He turns 28 next season and should be in his prime earning years, but 2021 was a personal as well as professional step backwards for Ridley.