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Calvin Ridley’s rookie contract will give the team flexibility at wide receiver

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Especially in a post-Sanu world.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons had to expend a first round pick to land Calvin Ridley, which means expectations for the rookie are going to necessarily be high, especially after 2018. The Falcons are paying Mohamed Sanu

On the other hand, they can afford to pay Sanu or another receiver decent money going forward, because Ridley is going to be a bargain for the next four seasons.

I’m no math sorcerer, but I do know that the annual average on Ridley’s deal is going to cost the Falcons considerably less than Taylor Gabriel’s new deal is going to cost the Bears (he’s between $5.5-7.5 million annually), and that’s for a receiver whose upside is considerably higher than Gabriel’s. If the team can nail some of their late round picks and UDFA signings at the position—c’mon Russell Gage!—they can be in the enviable position a year or two from now of only needing to pay one receiver major money. With so many quality players coming up for contract extensions, that may matter a great deal.

There are plenty of reasons to quibble with the selection of Ridley at #26, if you’re so inclined, from his age (24 in December) to his difficulty with contact at the college level. That said, if he’s even a good receiver during his first four years in Atlanta, he’ll be massive bargain, and I bet he’ll be better than that.