NFL Reinstates Trevor Lawrence’s “Newest” Weapon | Receiver Calvin Ridley Returns From Gambling Suspension

The NFL offseason is in full swing, and with all of the commotion of players getting cut, and teams preparing cap space to sign, keep, and trade players we almost forgot about the Jaguars adding a star receiver to team up with a burgeoning core of pass catchers and former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, who fell one game short of the AFC Championship Game.

The Return Of Calvin Ridley From Gambling Suspension

Calvin Ridley, who was suspended for a year after violating the NFL’s gambling policy is now finally being reinstated.

Calvin Ridley joins Jacksonville Jaguars
Calvin Ridley, who was suspended for a year after violating the NFL’s gambling policy is now finally being reinstated for the Jaguars. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The former Atlanta Falcon was one of the hottest wide receivers on the market just two seasons ago. In fact, according to Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, Calvin Ridley was almost traded to the Philadelphia Eagles at the end of last season, but the trade had to be blown up because the Falcons and Eagles found out about Ridley’s impending suspension. Imagine how that would’ve altered things for the Eagles who went on to make the Super Bowl off the success of AJ Brown, whom they acquired instead of Ridley. Jalen Hurts and the crew are surely not complaining.

But instead of Philly, Atlanta found a new destination for the 28-year-old pass catcher. The Falcons traded Ridely to the Jacksonville Jaguars at the trade deadline last season even though the Jags knew he wouldn’t be able to play for them right away. That says a lot about the type of player Ridley is, especially when you realize that the Jaguars wanted immediate talent and were willing to wait.

Jags Waited For Ridley’s Suspension To End

The Jags traded the Falcons two future conditional picks, the condition being Ridley’s reinstatement into the league. 

Per ESPN “The Jaguars traded for Ridley on Nov. 1 — sending the Falcons a 2023 fifth-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2024 that could rise as high as a second-round pick if the Jaguars sign Ridley to an extension. Ridley now will be paid a guaranteed $11.116 million in 2023 as the fifth-year option from the rookie deal he signed with the Falcons after being drafted 26th overall in 2018.”

Ridley was suspended in March of the 2021 season for gambling on NFL games. He was “suspended through at least the 2022 season” the NFL reported. He bet on NFL games when he was away from the Falcons’ facility on the non-football illness list.

Ridley hasn’t played in an NFL game since Oct.24, 2021, and after being suspended he left the Falcons a week later, stating that he needed to “focus on my mental well-being”. 

It will be interesting to see how the former second team All-Pro integrates into an offense, that spared no expense on improving the pieces around franchise QB Lawrence, signing WRs Christian Kirk and Zay Jones to long-term deals and recently franchise-tagging talented tight end Evan Engram.

Can Calvin Ridley Turn Back The Clock? 

But if the Florida native is anything like he was before his suspension, he will help a young Jaguars team elevate to new heights in a stacked AFC conference. If not with his veteran leadership, then with his ability and potential to be a No. 1 receiver.

Before his suspension Ridley had just 281 receiving yards in five games, only scoring two touchdowns. But before that, in 2020, Ridley had a highly successful season, recording 90 catches for 1,374 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. He did this in just 15 games.

Jacksonville is hoping Calvin Ridley can recreate the success of that season as he steps into a new No. 1 receiver role with Trevor Lawrence.

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