Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley won’t be playing in the NFL for at least a year, and maybe even longer, after the league announced an indefinite suspension for betting on NFL games. But for a brief time earlier this offseason, Ridley was not only set to suit up in 2022, but for a different team. The Eagles nearly finalized an agreement to trade for the wideout before Atlanta learned of Ridley’s impending suspension, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer.
Joining NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark on the “Takeoff” podcast, Glazer reported Thursday that the Falcons “backed out at the last second,” causing confusion and frustration in trade talks with the Eagles. Atlanta wasn’t yet allowed to disclose the details of the NFL’s investigation into Ridley’s gambling, which occurred over a five-day stretch in 2021, so it abruptly ended negotiations with Philadelphia. “Philly (later) respected them for how they handled” the situation, Glazer added on Twitter.
Even before Ridley’s suspension, the receiver’s future in Atlanta was unclear. Despite a breakout 2020 campaign, in which he topped 1,300 receiving yards as one of Matt Ryan’s top targets, the Alabama product suddenly stepped away from the team — and the NFL — in October 2021, citing mental health reasons. He never returned, with NFL Media reporting later in the season that he might be available via trade in the offseason. Now, barring a successful appeal of his ban, Ridley will be ineligible to apply for reinstatement until at least February 2023, thanks to placing illegal bets on several games, including those involving his own team.
The Eagles, meanwhile, figure to be aggressive in pursuit of receiver help as the offseason unfolds. Former first-round pick DeVonta Smith is entrenched as the team’s No. 1 pass catcher, but Ridley would’ve represented a big-name addition, and may very well have overtaken Smith on the depth chart had he been acquired. Philadelphia has three first-round picks in April’s draft, as well as roughly $17 million in 2022 salary cap space.
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