The Atlanta Falcons were without top wide receiver Calvin Ridley for much of 2021. He only played five games before stepping away from the Falcons for personal reasons.
He left the team for the second and final time on Halloween before the Falcons were to face the Carolina Panthers.
The return talk surrounding Ridley has involved a “fresh start” for him and the Falcons which would involve a trade.
Ridley will turn 28 this season and has one year left on his contract. What could the Falcons reasonably expect to get in return for a player who had just 281 yards and a non-football injury last season?
Pro Football Focus (PFF) thinks a second-round pick would get the job done. They’ve proposed that deal between the Falcons and the New England Patriots.
New England picks 54th in the second round, so the Falcons would likely try and push for their first rounder (21st overall) or maybe their second and third (84th).
If the Falcons picked up the Patriots second-round pick, they would have the 43rd, 54th, and 58th picks in the second round. This draft is deep in the trenches and second-day wide receivers like Christian Watson of North Dakota State or a player like George Pickens of the Georgia Bulldogs.
As important to the Falcons would be getting Ridley’s guaranteed contract off the books in 2022. Atlanta is currently $6.6 million over the salary cap before any offseason additions in free agency or the draft are considered.
The Patriots would be willing to take a chance on a player who had 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago, but they would need assurances from Ridley’s camp that he is back for the long-haul… and willing to sign a contract extension.
New England’s top receiver in 2021 was 25-year old Jakobi Meyers with 866 yards. Kendrick Bourne added 800 yards. Getting another weapon for quarterback Mac Jones in his second season would help the Patriots compete with the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals.
It was obvious from Arthur Smith’s tone when asked about Ridley during the season that Ridley wasn’t coming back to the Falcons in 2021. It’s becoming more and more obvious that Ridley isn’t coming back to the Falcons at all.
Getting a second-round pick plus a sweetener like a later-round pick, plus $11 million in cap room would be a good deal for the rebuilding Falcons.
A true No. 1 wide receiver would be more valuable to Atlanta, but Ridley stopped being that guy for the Falcons in 2020.