After an inquiry revealed that Calvin Ridley had placed bets on NFL games during a five-day period in November 2021, the NFL said on March 7, 2022, that he would be suspended for at least the 2022 season. In a Players’ Tribune article, he said that betting on NFL games was the “worst mistake of his life.” Additionally, he said that in 2020, he misdiagnosed a bone bruise as a foot ailment, played through it, and underwent surgery a few months before training camp in 2021. He claimed he ultimately left the game because he was psychologically exhausted from dealing with the injuries and had anxiety connected to a break-in at his house.
In exchange for Ridley, the Jaguars acquired a conditional 2024 fourth-round selection and a 2023 fifth-round pick from the Falcons. If the Jaguars extend Ridley’s contract, the 2024 pick could move up to the second round. With his reinstatement, Ridley will be able to exercise the fifth year of his rookie contract, which he signed with the Falcons after being selected 26th overall in 2018, for a guaranteed $11.116 million.
What will he look like after being out from an NFL game for nearly two full years? Can he perform as well as he did in 2020 when he hauled in 90 catches for 1,374 yards? He’s still a game-breaker, right?
— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) November 1, 2022
You’ll find out in September, says the newest receiver for the Jaguars.
“I’m trying to be humble, [and] I’ve been pretty good at football all my life, and I not only have been good, I also worked to be good,” Ridley said Wednesday in his first interview since he was cleared to return from his suspension for gambling on NFL games. “They say two years off. But what about the healing process? What if I got faster? What if I got stronger?
“Obviously I got wiser. Why can’t I be better?”
The Jaguars undoubtedly believe that will happen since it would elevate their offense to among the top in the NFL by 2023. Without Ridley, they finished 10th in the NFL in scoring and total offense last year. All of the team’s key playmakers, including quarterback Trevor Lawrence and receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones as well as tight end Evan Engram and running back Travis Etienne Jr., are back for a second year in head coach Doug Pederson’s offense.
Since Ridley’s reinstatement on March 6—the day before the start of the Jaguars’ optional offseason conditioning program—which got underway this Monday, Lawrence claimed to have thrown with Ridley three or four times. He was taken aback.
“He’s been awesome,” Lawrence said “He’s hungry. He’s excited to be here. He’s got the right attitude. I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve noticed. On the field he’s a freak, just the way he runs routes, how explosive he is.
“We just started, but it seems like he’s picking [the offense] up pretty quickly.”
Ridley had stated that he will have a 1,400-yard season upon his comeback in a piece published on The Players’ Tribune last month.
“I am a 1,400-yard type of player. God is going to determine what type of stats I am going to have,” Ridley said. “Football is serious. I mean, you don’t just play 17 games straight and think you’re going to be in every one of them and playing healthy in all of them. So what I’m saying is I am a 1,400 yard receiver with a broken foot.
“…So I know that I could make the plays, and I know that I’m one of the better receivers in this league. That’s what I’m saying.”