Before we kick off this article, let’s acknowledge what we know about Calvin Ridley’s situation today: Virtually nothing. The receiver stepped away from the Falcons and football in October, releasing a statement saying he needed to “focus on his mental wellbeing,” and we have not seen or heard from him since. Reporters dutifully ask about his status every week, Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot note the organization is supporting him and there is no update, and the rest of the season passed without Ridley on the field.
My hope is that Ridley is doing well and that we’ll see him back in Atlanta in 2022, but there’s no information whatsoever about any of that at this point. Given that, we’ve chosen not to speculate too much about his football future, and not at all about how he’s doing personally. We simply don’t know.
Now that the offseason is here, however, it’s only logical that Ridley’s status will start being talked about, and it is being talked about. In the last couple of weeks, a pair of NFL insiders have weighed in and suggested that trade is something we ought to at least consider as real possibility this offseason.
Steve Wyche is a plugged-in reporter, both locally and nationally. A reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a few years in the mid-2000s, Wyche currently splits his time between NFL Network and the Falcons website, so his ties to the organization are strong. That’s why when he told Carl Dukes and Mike Bell at 92.9 The Game that “both sides could be looking for a fresh start” when it comes to the Falcons and Ridley, we certainly were paying attention.
Asked if Calvin Ridley’s future with the Falcons is in jeopardy @wyche89 tells @MikeBellATL & @putemupcdukes “I’d think so. The fact that he and the team have been so quiet and he hasn’t surfaced, it appears like both sides could be looking for a fresh start.” #dirtybirds— DukesandBell929 (@DukesandBell929) January 4, 2022
Wyche did note that his remarks were “not anything definitive or absolute” in response to a followup question from a Falcons fan. Given that, we sat back a bit and waited to see what came next, and what came next was essentially one of Wyche’s colleagues agreeing with his assessment.
Of course. That's why my comments were not anything definitive or absolute. Notice the language in my remarks— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) January 6, 2022
Mike Garafolo is also a plugged-in reporter at NFL Network, and today he backed up Wyche’s comments and added some of his own. Garafolo told DeAngelo Hall and others that the team was “holding out hope” that they’d have Ridley this coming season, but there has been limited communication between the two parties, adding that a “fresh start could be in the cards.”
From @gmfb Weekend on the future of #Falcons WR Calvin Ridley. My read here is a trade is a very strong possibility.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 15, 2022
My colleague @wyche89 said recently both sides could be looking for a fresh start. I agree. pic.twitter.com/AoPy7UPHDo
There’s no concrete “a trade will happen” language in either of these—both Wyche and Garafolo were careful to qualify their comments—but regardless it’s evident that we’re in for an offseason of Calvin Ridley trade rumors. Speculation and rumors are inevitable at this time of year, but Wyche and Garafolo are not exactly in the business of making things up and winging it. If they both feel there’s a possibility of a trade, there probably is.
Ridley is obviously a tremendous receiver, and teams are going to be all over trying to trade for the 27-year-old if the Falcons do make him available, as Garafolo noted. Certainly Ridley not playing over the final two-plus months of the season, the fact that a pair of well-respected reporters are making it clear a trade could be in the offing, and the Falcons ever-present need for draft capital and cap space make it impossible to ignore the potential of a move. If Ridley wants a fresh start—and I would stress again that we don’t know that he does, at least at this point—the Falcons shouldn’t have any trouble getting a compelling offer for a player who was one of the NFL’s best receivers in 2020.
We have no idea whether Ridley’s going to be moved in the coming weeks, or whether he’ll be back out there on the practice field at Flowery Branch over the summer. What we do know is that trade rumors aren’t going to go away until the team or RIdley shoots them down or a trade actually happens. Prepare for this to be the second straight offseason where the team’s top receiver is the central focus of the offseason, and prepare for the possibility that the end result is the same it was for Julio Jones.