Just when you thought the NFL transaction wire couldn’t get any more chaotic, the Jaguars went and did this, upping the insanity with a jaw-dropper to cap one of the busiest trade deadlines in recent memory.
The NFL trade deadline tends to be on the tamer side relative to other leagues, though obviously this year bucked that trend in a big way, feeding us an inordinate number of blockbusters headlined by familiar names like Christian McCaffrey, Roquan Smith, Robbie Anderson, Robert Quinn, Bradley Chubb, Chase Claypool, Jeff Wilson, Nyheim Hines, T.J. Hockenson, Jeff Wilson, James Robinson and now Calvin Ridley. A two-time college National Champion and former first-round draft pick, Ridley broke out for 1,374 yards en route to All-Pro recognition during his breakout 2020, though the Alabama alum hasn’t suited up in over a year, the result of a mental-health sabbatical followed by an unprecedented season-long suspension for betting on games. He’ll be eligible for reinstatement in 2023, which would be his final year under contract.
Made expendable by first-round rookie Drake London, Ridley could surely see the writing on the wall, recognizing his NFL future would not be in Atlanta. When healthy and not facing league discipline (Ridley claims his suspension stems from a $1,500 wager made during his leave of absence), the 6’1” receiver has been a productive player, giving the Jags another potential difference-maker to pair with Christian Kirk on the perimeter. If Ridley, who turns 28 next month, can reinvent himself as Trevor Lawrence’s go-to target in Jacksonville, he’ll have a good chance to parlay that into a lucrative contract when he hits the market as a free agent in 2024.
The Falcons have gotten off to a surprising start under second-year coach Arthur Smith, pounding the rock to the tune of 158.1 rushing yards per game, fifth-most behind only the Bears, Ravens, Browns and Giants. Last week’s win over Carolina (greatly benefiting from a pair of costly missed field goals by Eddy Pineiro) vaulted the Falcons to first in the NFC South, building a one-game cushion over Tampa Bay and New Orleans. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have lost five straight including a heartbreaker to the Broncos across the pond in London last Sunday.
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