Many NFL teams need a "get open" kind of receiver, especially in the era of 60 yard bombs, two deep safeties, and nerfed CBs. Enter the disgruntled mental health guru, Calvin Ridley. Drafted as a part of an offense designed around Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and 7 step drops, Ridley utilized his speed, fluid hips, and understanding of NFL DBs to become the ultimate deep threat/Zone beater/Man beater/route running specialist. Thanks to scheme, tutelage from Julio, and a magically noodle arm that can't throw 25 yards, Ridley became a prime target for many fantasy football drafter after the acquisition of Julio Jones' Tight End clone, Kyle Pitts.
Due to unforeseen circumstances with Roddy White and clear mental health issues, Julio Jones left the Falcons for the Titans, a team somehow unable to beat an upstart Bengals. Also, Calvin Ridley decided to dip out on the Falcons for mental health, exactly at the same time his rookie contract became guaranteed. With 1A and 1B gone, Ryan took an obvious dip in passing numbers, efficiency, and touchdowns. Ridley remains a Falcon in name only. The question is, where do the Falcons trade Ridley to maximize his return with his 5th year option guaranteed?
In baseball and basketball, guaranteed contracts seem to mean a little more. So anyone who takes on Ridley must have either the cap space or the clear need to take on such a risky mental case... I mean, mental health patient.*
*In all likelihood, a combination of playing for a rebuild team with multiple years of NFL grind, Ryan on his final legs, and cap hell makes him want to go elsewhere... and for that, I don't entirely blame him. But that 11 million guaranteed to him sure makes me look less favorably upon him.*
Ridley wants a contender, with a future paycheck, and seemingly away from Ryan, Arthur Smith, and Atlanta as a whole. So what teams would want a double move deep threat who can beat anything save a perfect rolling coverage?
Enter these teams, in order of need
Chiefs - Hill demands special coverage. With Ridley in the fold, the 2-high looks become pointless as Hill's speed and Ridley's ability makes defenses give up en masse.
Patriots - Bill Belichick may be a mastermind on defense and psychology, but he is 100% unable to understand wide receivers. Ridley gives him the deep threat he needs for Mac Jones' poor arm strength, all while opening up the game for his expensive tight ends. Ridley may command a first rounder, and the best ammo for this loaded 2022 draft.
Lions - with only Goff, Hockenson, and the Sun God of Egypt taking the middle of the field, the two first round blessed Lions may wish to part with one to acquire Ridley. While they need an outside threat, a QB, and about 10 other starters, the Lions under Campbell may wish to make a bold move for a real WR to get their team moving forward before they cast aside Goff like the band-aid QB he really is.
Browns - Stefanski believes in himself, not playmakers. Ridley may be a wash here given the run scheme, highlighting the mental problems aforementioned, and therefor becomes less valuable (say a 2nd and a 5th rounder combo). I want value, and as much as the Browns need WR talent, I doubt he becomes anything more than a Brett Kollman threat that OBJ was supposed to be.
Miami - Parker busted without Fitzmagic. Preston Williams can't get on the field. Mike Gesicki is wasted with Tua. And another Texan first round bust, Will Fuller, can't see the field because of injuries and the PEDs he takes to come back from injuries. They need a WR to play opposite Waddle for the same reason the Chiefs love Hill.
Ridley himself is a game breaking WR2, a poor WR1, or a deep threat specialist for a team that has the cap and the capital to handle him. The WFT and Saints are dark horses because of their lack of weapons, but I fear they want a QB of the future in some capacity. We shan't trade with either due to either rivalry or draft capital. Therefor I believe a trade with either the Chiefs or Miami are the most likely outcomes. The Lions want hard, physical players, and Stefanski thinks himself an offensive genius. The Patriots take third place in my rankings, as Belichick wants competitors and coachable players who will bend to his will.
Ridley is likely gone this offseason. But don't be surprised if the Chiefs or Dolphins make a run at him with a first round pick. Terry Fontenot would be a fool not to shop him to either team, and given the Patriots' desperation for a deep threat, would be a greater fool not to seek out the Patriots first.