Calvin Ridley Atlanta Falcons
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Calvin Ridley ready to be The Guy for Atlanta Falcons

Calvin Ridley is no stranger to the pressure of being a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. Ridley filled that role admirably while Julio Jones was injured last season. The third year receiver had a break out campaign of 90 catches, 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns.

This year may feel a little different without Jones’ presence on the team, but the fourth year vet isn’t daunted by the role of leader.

“No, No pressure,” Ridley said with a smile when asked about taking on the role. “No pressure at all.”

A follow up question asked him if being the default No. 1 last season helped him get ready for this year. Ridley wasn’t the typical fresh faced rookie as he entered the league from Alabama at 23 years old. He said he’s always felt ready.

“I played with Julio and Mohamed Sanu since day one. I feel like I’ve been moving that way. I can do it by myself. Obviously I’m not by myself, we have other players that are really good. But I feel like I’ve been ready and just needed the opportunity to get in those positions.”

Ridley was asked when he got a sense that he would no longer be playing with Julio, and Ridley intimated that he could only focus on things he could control.

“Honestly, I was really in my own land at that point. I was trying to worry about me at that point. So I didn’t know what was going on. Nobody told me nothing. I got the news when everyone else got the news.”

Some of the pressure of losing Jones will be focused on rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. Pitts is the highest tight end ever taken in the NFL Draft, but he’s a receiver first and foremost and was brought in as a replacement of sorts for Jones.

The Falcons picked up Ridley’s fifth year option for his 2022 contract. His salary jumps from $3.5M to $11.1M next year so a good chunk of Jones cap savings will go to Ridley next year. He’ll be a free agent after the 2022 season and locking him down to a second contract should be a priority for the Falcons. 

Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy is an Atlanta native and 20 year media veteran including time as Director of Scouting at, Managing Editor at 247Sports, VP Content Operations at Sports Illustrated and more. Scott has appeared as a recruiting and NFL Draft analyst on dozens of media including ESPN, NFL Network, USA Today, NY Times, and more.