The Eagles and Falcons were reportedly close to a trade to bring Calvin Ridley to Philadelphia this offseason before those talks had to be halted.
Ridley was suspended earlier this week for betting on NFL games. Had that not happened, it sounds like he might have become an Eagle.
On an upcoming Takeoff with John Clark podcast, FOX reporter Jay Glazer detailed the deal that never was:
“It was actually funny because they were one of the teams, they were close to a deal with Atlanta for Calvin Ridley and Atlanta backed out at the last second,” Glazer said. “And Philly was like, ‘What’s going on?’ They couldn’t really tell them. So Philly wasn’t too happy and then after, looked at it like, ‘Alright, Atlanta, thanks.’ Atlanta did business the right way. They weren’t allowed to say anything, again, the legalities of it, couldn’t say a word. They just had to pull out.
“But, man, if Philly could have gotten a talent like Calvin Ridley when he didn’t have these issues, that would have been good for them. Again, they’re aggressive. Howie (Roseman) is always really aggressive. That would have been big, especially with a lot of Alabama guys. That would have been a good one had he not had the issues, but he did. So Atlanta just had to pull out and couldn’t tell them for a couple weeks why.”
Glazer said the Eagles initially thought the Falcons had a better offer, but were ultimately thankful the Falcons stopped those trade talks when they did.
It’s unclear exactly what the Eagles were going to give up in a trade to get Ridley, but it would have given their offense a major boost heading into the 2022 season.
Earlier this week, Ridley was suspended by the NFL indefinitely, through at least the 2022 season, for betting on games during the 2021 season.
"The activity took place during a five-day period in late November while Ridley was not with the team and was away from the club's facility on the non-football illness list," the league said in a statement.
"A league investigation uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way."
On his Twitter account Monday, Ridley wrote, “I bet 1500 total I don’t have a gambling problem.”
He also said: “I know I was wrong But I’m getting 1 year lol”
Ridley may petition for reinstatement after Feb. 23 of next year.
Before the suspension, the Eagles were obviously very interested in Ridley, who had a phenomenal season in 2020 and was still seen as an ascending star in the NFL. But even before this suspension, Ridley’s future in Atlanta was very much in question.
In 2021, Ridley played in just five games, missing the last two months of the season as he dealt with anxiety issues. During the season, NFL Network reported that both sides could be looking for a “fresh start.” Aside from the Eagles’ obvious need for an upgrade at the wide receiver position, they seem uniquely qualified to handle mental health struggles. They’ve had two noteworthy cases with Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks in recent years.
In fact, back in January, I was asked about Ridley in a mailbag and said the Eagles should “absolutely” be interested in Ridley.
Ridley (6-1, 190) was scheduled to play the 2022 season on the fifth-year option of his first-round rookie deal. So he would have had base salary and matching cap hit of $11,116,000 this upcoming season. That salary will now be pushed back to 2023.
The Falcons drafted Ridley with the 26th overall pick in 2018 out of Alabama, where he was teammates with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith.
The Eagles right now have a pretty clear need at the receiver position. They will bring back Smith after a promising rookie season and will also bring back Quez Watkins, who had a breakout season in his second year as a sixth-round pick. But 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor has been an abject disappointment and adding a veteran like Ridley would have really helped.
Ridley had back-to-back 800+ yard season to start his NFL career but had a breakout season in 2020. In his third NFL season, Ridley had 90 catches for 1,374 yards and 9 touchdowns. He seemed poised to repeat that success in 2021 but things didn’t work out like that.
From 2018-2020, Ridley was one of just 11 players league-wide with at least 3,000 yards receiving and 20+ touchdowns. And he looked like he was still getting better.
Maybe this is a trade the Eagles and Falcons can revisit in a year.