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Assessing the Impact of Calvin Ridley's Suspension

Assessing the Impact of Calvin Ridley's Suspension

The NFL has announced that Falcons star WR Calvin Ridley has been suspended for the entire 2022 season for betting on NFL games in 2021. A press release from March 7 states that “the activity of Ridley took place in a 5-day window in November of 2021” while Ridley was away from the Falcons on the non-football illness list.

Ridley may petition for reinstatement on or after February 23rd of 2023. He may appeal his suspension within 3 days of the filing of the suspension.

The NFL’s concern has been and will continue to be will the integrity of the game be impacted by the proliferation of their new gambling deals.  Ridley was caught in part because the NFL gathers information on potential violations of the league’s anti-gambling policy by players and team employees through their gambling partners. 

The Falcons will be without their top WR, leaving the team with the following inexperienced group going into free agency:

  • Olamide Zaccheaus (58.0% of offensive snaps in 2021) - set to be a RFA
  • Christian Blake (11% of offensive snaps in 2021)
  • Frank Darby (3% of offensive snaps in 2021)
  • Chad Hansen (0% of offensive snaps in 2021)
  • Austin Trammell (0% of offensive snaps in 2021)
  • Brayden Lenius (WR/TE combo: never played an NFL snap)

With these six WRs remaining as the only players currently under contract or available to play in 2022 with the group, the position becomes an even greater need for a team looking to surround Matt Ryan with weapons.

Since Ridley will not play this season, he will not be paid the $11.1M that he was set to play for under the 5th year option. Subsequently, the Falcons will not be on the hook for Ridley’s contract. With the suspension, this season will essentially not count for Ridley and the Falcons will not incur a cap hit while still maintaining the rights to Ridley in 2023, assuming he returns to play. If he is reinstated by the league in 2023, he will be under contract for that $11.1M and only then will the final year of his contract toll.