The trade deadline rarely gives us any real surprises, but that changed today when the Atlanta Falcons traded the suspended Calvin Ridley to the Jaguars. In exchange, the Falcons will reportedly receive a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 conditional fourth-round selection. However, the conditional pick could become a third-rounder if Ridley reaches certain incentives in 2023, or it could become a second-rounder if he’s signed to an extension with the Jags. It’s a complicated trade for a complicated player. Let’s break it down and discuss the changing value of some players as a result of the trade.
Calvin Ridley, WR JAX
When Ridley was taken by the Atlanta Falcons with the 26th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, much was expected from him and he delivered almost immediately with a stellar rookie season that featured a 64/821/10 line. He continued to progress during his first three seasons, culminating in a monster 2020 campaign that saw him catch 90 passes on a whopping 143 targets for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. Ridley had quickly established himself as a premier dynasty asset and the clear long-term replacement for Julio Jones as the WR1 with the Falcons.
Then everything changed.
Here’s a timeline:
May of 2021: The team picked up his fifth-year option, guaranteeing Ridley $11.1 million for the 2022 season.
June of 2021: The Falcons traded Jones, locking in Ridley as the team’s top receiver.
October of 2021: Ridley refuses to go to London for the Falcons game against Jacksonville. Later that month, he leaves the team indefinitely to focus on his mental health. Rumors swirl he wants out of Atlanta.
March of 2022: The NFL announced a suspension of at least a year in duration for Ridley for betting on NFL games.
This was a mess of epic proportions and sent his ADP spiraling from the second round to well past the tenth.
The trade to Jacksonville gives Ridley a fresh start, but the conditions of the trade make it very difficult to judge his future accurately. If we assume he comes back healthy and back to his old form, Ridley would give Jacksonville a legitimate number one wide receiver, though he’ll be 28 when he hits the field again. Still, he does seem excited to make the move.
— CALVIN RIDLEY (@CalvinRidley1) November 1, 2022
If things are right with Ridley and his off-the-field issues are behind him, his ADP is going eventually rise, though this likely won’t be quick as normal since we won’t see anything from him until next September at the earliest. Still the excitement Ridley is showing with the move shows things are moving in the right direction for him. In Jacksonville, he should step right in and be the focus of Trevor Lawrence and the passing game. If Lawrence continues to progress, Ridley would be a sure-fire WR1 nearly every week. While there are lots of questions to be answered, we’re soon going to have some clarity. Ridley is a prime target for a non-contending team this year. While his age is going to stop him from ever being a first or even a second round pick in ADP circles, he’s good enough to be a weekly staple in just about any lineup.
Christian Kirk, WR JAX
The Jags tried to make Kirk their WR1 when they signed him to a contract worth about $1 billion this off-season. It worked out the first few weeks, but Kirk has really cooled off since and doesn’t look remotely like a true bona fide WR1 for a franchise that really needs him to be in the short-term. Kirk is going to put up some decent numbers on the season, but he could be a “trade high” candidate this season in anticipation of Ridley rolling into town. Kirk is on pace for 130 targets this season and that number just isn’t sustainable if and when Ridley joins the team. His ADP was going to fall this month anyway, now it’s going to fall a smidge further.
The move for Ridley obviously doesn’t mean much to these two right now, but it could in the future. Zay Jones is under contract long-term, but Marvin Jones isn’t. With Ridley on the way, it’s hard to see Marvin Jones being on the roster next season and re-signing as an unrestricted free agent. With an uncertain future and production that’s tailing off, the 32-year old Marvin Jones is looking more and more like a roster clogger. As for Zay, it’s hard to see him being consistently productive behind both Ridley and Kirk.
Trevor Lawrence, QB JAX
I’ve seen it being said that adding Ridley is like adding Stefon Diggs to Josh Allen or AJ Brown to Jalen Hurts. That’s certainly possible, but it’s also far from a given. Still, Lawrence has shown some nice improvement this season now that he has an actual NFL Head Coach and the addition of Ridley should prove to be a major shot in the arm for Lawrence. People have short memories, but Ridley is one of the most talented players on the planet. It’s hard not to like this move for Lawrence and his future value. Things are finally trending up for the former “can’t miss” prospect.
With the Ridley situation finally resolved, the Falcons will move forward with this pair as the centerpiece of their passing attack. It remains to be seen who the long-term answer is at quarterback in Atlanta, but the Falcons moving on from Ridley is good news for both of them – we just need to see more consistency from these two the rest of this season to feel good about their current ADP.
Again, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen in Atlanta. Mariota has the Falcons in contention and Ridder, while highly regarded, is no sure thing. We know Ridley won’t be there to help either of them and that’s some bad news. Still, it’s hard to say this move really affects either of them as neither has ever played on the Falcons with Ridley on the roster anyway.
Other Falcons Recievers
There is now a legitimate chance for Olamide Zaccheaus, Damiere Byrd, or Bryan Edwards to establish themselves as a future starter for the Falcons. Unfortunately, none of them have done enough to really merit much consideration for that role moving forward. I would expect Atlanta to be very busy in the NFL Draft and through free agency when it comes to adding some new wideouts.