New England Patriots Rumors: Calvin Ridley could solve Pats WR issues

Calvin Ridley #18 of the Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Calvin Ridley #18 of the Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots seem to be in a pretty good place heading into the final week of the regular season. They already clinched a playoff berth last weekend after they dismantled the Jacksonville Jaguars, and picking up a win over the Miami Dolphins this weekend would ensure they couldn’t fall lower than the number 5 seed they currently find themselves in.

And while this season is still far from finished, this is generally the time when the offseason begins to become a bigger piece of the picture for most teams. While the Patriots will continue playing football after Week 18 regardless of what happens this weekend, 18 teams around the league won’t, and will quickly begin their offseason preparations.

One of those teams happens to be the Atlanta Falcons, who have been out of the running for a playoff spot for quite some time now. The Falcons are probably dreading the end of this season though, because it appears they are going to have a bit of dilemma on their hands right off the bat.

Calvin Ridley, the Falcons star wide receiver, has missed all but five games this season while dealing with mental health issues, and rumor has it that he is going to be looking for a fresh start this offseason. Considering Ridley hasn’t played since Week 7, it seems like the Falcons probably wouldn’t be opposed to moving on from Ridley. And if the two sides decide it’s time to move on, the New England Patriots should find themselves in the running for the talented wideout.

Calvin Ridley could be the top tier wide receiver the New England Patriots are lacking

Right off the bat, it’s clear there is some risk in trading for Ridley. As previously mentioned, he has barely played this season, and while his mental health issues are obviously much more important than him playing football, teams are going to want to know whether or not he will be playing for them if they end up trading for him. Ridley also only has one year left on his deal, and depending on how his 2022 season goes, he could be set for a large payday if he hits free agency.

But Ridley is clearly very talented, and the fact that there is now word coming from his camp that he will probably be looking for a trade this offseason signals that he intends to suit up next season. He’s also just 27 years old, has proven he can be the top wide receiver of an offense when called upon, and would fill a position of dire need for the Patriots.

Ridley spent most of the first two seasons of his career working alongside the Falcons other star wide receiver, Julio Jones. In 2020, Jones missed seven games due to injuries, opening a door for Ridley to take on a more prominent role in the offense. He took his game to a new level with the added opportunity, finishing the season with 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns, solidifying himself as one of the top receivers in the game.

With Jones forcing his way out of Atlanta this past offseason, Ridley seemed set to follow up his breakout season in spectacular form. Instead, Ridley struggled at times with the added attention opposing secondaries were throwing his way in the five games he played. He showed flashes of figuring things out before he announced he was stepping away from the game, which becomes another big question mark surrounding his future.

Considering Ridley’s off-field struggles, his seemingly imminent trade request, and his soon to be expiring contract, that would drastically reduce to potential asking price for Ridley if he were to be traded. After the 2020 season, it would have required a boatload of picks and players for the Falcons to even consider moving Ridley. Now, a first round pick may be all it takes.

Considering Ridley just turned 27 less than a month ago, he fits the Patriots timeline perfectly. If the New England Patriots were to trade for Ridley, they would obviously do so with the intention of signing him to a long-term deal. Again, that comes with a lot of risk, but if Ridley can get back on the field and play the way he did in 2020, he would provide Mac Jones a top talent at wide receiver for the early stages of his career.

Next. Hunter Henry enjoying his time with the Patriots. dark

Guys like Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, and Nelson Agholor have been solid when called upon, but Ridley is a level above these guys. Ridley is probably best lining up on the outside, but he can be a matchup nightmare in the slot as well. Plus, you can’t reasonably expect many corners to stay with Ridley one-on-one, so it puts opposing defenses in a bind when trying to decide whether to double Ridley or take away the other options on offense.

The New England Patriots offense is clearly pretty potent already, but adding a top tier pass catcher is going to be what it takes to allow the offense to elevate their game to the next level. Ridley may not be the most reliable option available this upcoming offseason, but he might just have the highest ceiling. If the Patriots want to finally bring in a number one receiver for Jones and the offense, Ridley may just be their guy.