The Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins are the two most likeliest potential landing spots for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who hasn’t played since stepping away from the NFL in October for mental health reasons. NFL Media’s Steve Wyche speculated this week on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta that the former Alabama star “could be looking for a fresh start” in 2022 and may not return to the Falcons should the franchise or player choose to move ahead of the 2022 campaign — the final year on his current deal.
Should that happen, notes CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, the Eagles and Dolphins would be Nos. 1 and 2 on his list of suitors. Philadelphia is an obvious pick given the franchise’s plethora of trade options and the fact Ridley played with quarterback Jalen Hurts and wideout DeVonta Smith with the Crimson Tide.
Miami will have a need on the outside alongside Jaylen Waddle since the Dolphins are expected to lose four pass-catchers to free agency, Benjamin notes. Others included in CBS Sports’ nine potential interested teams include the Bears, Patriots, Jaguars, Raiders, 49ers, Browns and Colts.
Riley released a statement on Halloween indicating his decision to leave football for an undisclosed period of time.
“These past few weeks have been very challenging and as much as I’d like to be on the field competing with my teammates, I need to step away from football at this time and focus on my mental wellbeing,” Ridley wrote on Twitter. “This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future. I want to thank my teammates, the entire Atlanta Falcons organization, our great fans, my friends, and my family for all of their support during this time.”
This season, Ridley has 31 catches, 281 yards, two touchdowns and 9.1 yards per catch. In his career since coming from Alabama, Ridley has 248 catches, 3,342 yards, 28 touchdowns and 13.5 yards per catch.
Ridley became the Falcons’ top receiver for this season after they traded Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans.
The 26th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Ridley is coming off of his best season in the NFL. Ridley caught 90 passes for a career-high 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. That led Atlanta in receiving while Jones played a mere nine games due to injury issues.
Back in August, Ridley was excited to see the Falcons receiving corps, which also featured rookie tight end Kyle Pitts.
“We have a ton of speed in there, a ton of guys who can make plays, and I’m excited for the football world to see the guys we have, too,” Ridley said, via McClain Baxley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re real wide receivers. We have skills. We can pretty much do anything big and small receivers can do. We can beat press, we can play zone football, we can go up and get the ball and we can catch and run. We can do it all.”
Nick Kosko contributed to this report.