New England Patriots Rumors: Star wide receiver no longer a trade target

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 have been heavily involved in rumors for a potential move for a wide receiver all offseason long. Those rumors intensified pretty quickly once it was announced the team had released Kyle Van Noy in a move to create some salary cap space this afternoon.

One of the names people pretty quickly gravitated towards was Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Calvin Ridley. It had been reported earlier this offseason that Ridley was hoping to get a fresh start away from the Falcons, and the team seemed ready to oblige. Given that the free agent market isn’t open yet, and the Patriots didn’t really need to release Van Noy given they were already under the salary cap, many figured they were clearing space to add Ridley.

Instead, those rumors were put to a quick halt when it was announced Ridley would be suspended indefinitely, and for at least the entire 2022 season, for betting on NFL games last season. It’s a stunning development that has taken a top wide receiver trade target off the board for the Patriots, and forces them to consider other options as free agency approaches.

The New England Patriots still have options beyond Calvin Ridley

The Ridley situation is certainly discouraging to see, especially since he sat out for most of the 2021 season to focus on his mental health. His issues off the field are obviously much more important than his potential production on the field, and hopefully this incident will allow him to get whatever help he may need.

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In the football world, it’s clear the Patriots were interested in Ridley. They have a big need for a top wideout, and with Atlanta’s dire cap situation and poor play in 2021, it seemed pretty reasonable to expect Ridley to be dealt for a fairly cheap package. That the Falcons weren’t willing to trade Ridley given they knew his issues potentially saved New England from trading for him, only to see him get suspended indefinitely.

The Patriots need to reset quickly though, because there’s still time for them to make a trade for a wide receiver if that’s the route they want to go. Ridley was probably their top trade target, and in terms of production, you aren’t going to find someone who offers the same skillset Ridley does. Trading for him would have been ideal, but that’s unfortunately not going to happen at this point.

There are still a couple of solid wide receivers who could quickly become the Patriots top trade target at wide receiver. Jarvis Landry is a guy who is supposedly going to be avialable whether it be through trade or free agency, and he would fit right in as New England’s new slot receiver. Considering how the Cleveland Browns were also looking to make a deal for Ridley, it makes sense they are looking to part ways with Landry.

It’s not really known whether or not Ridley was New England’s top trade target, but he would have been an ideal player to add to the team. The Pats have struggled to draft and develop wide reciever talent during Bill Belichick‘s tenure, and they don’t really have the financial means to sign a big name player. Trading for a top guy (remember Randy Moss) could have helped this offense really take off.

Next. 3 Bengals the Patriots should target in free agency. dark

And while that’s still possible, seeing Ridley quickly turn from top target into a suspended player is a bit disappointing. Ridley would have been a perfect fit with New England, and while a player of his caliber could still be added, the path to doing so is a lot more difficult. It will be interesting to see how the New England Patriots go about rebuilding their wide receiver room with Ridley now off the table.