Dull WR market in NFL Free Agency makes Jacksonville Jaguars trade for Calvin Ridley look great

Calvin Ridley #18 of the Atlanta Falcons vs. the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on August 21, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Calvin Ridley #18 of the Atlanta Falcons vs. the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on August 21, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

NFL clubs have been busy trying to hoard talent on the first day of legal tampering in free agency. Defensive lineman Javon Hargrave, safety Jessie Bates III, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and right tackle Jawaan Taylor have all agreed to massive contracts. On the other hand, the wide receiver market has been slow and all of the big-name players available are still waiting to strike a deal. This is why the Jacksonville Jaguars were smart for trading for Calvin Ridley last year.

The truth is that this might not be a particularly great year to sign a wide receiver. Despite the fact that there are a handful of solid options, none of the ones available are worth a top-market deal. Jacobi Meyers is the best of the bunch but he might have a hard time getting a deal that pays him an annual average of $20 million. As of this writing, he’s still without a team. The same is true for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who just won a Super Bowl Ring with the Kansas City Chiefs.

While it’s still early in free agency, it’s a bit surprising to see a lack of demand for wide receivers in free agency. Then again, the tight end market has been equally slow. Chris Manhertz signed with the Denver Broncos but Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki are still available, so players in search of a new team still have ample time to get a deal done.

The Jacksonville Jaguars deserve props for trading for Calvin Ridley

General manager Trent Baalke was under scrutiny for giving top-market contracts to both Zay Jones and Christian Kirk. However, other receivers went on to sign even more lucrative deals and Jones and Kirk are coming off career years, so it’s fair to say that the Jacksonville Jaguars got a great return on their investment.

But even though Jones and Kirk went on to become key cogs on offense, Baalke knew that the Jags were still missing another receiver, so he acquired Calvin Ridley before last year’s trade deadline. Even though Ridley was serving an indefinite suspension for betting on football games in 2021, he had registered superb numbers in 2020, so this looked like a low-risk, high-reward move.

Ridley applied for reinstatement in February and his suspension was lifted in early March. He recently wrote on The Players Tribune that he played the 2021 season on a broken foot but has had enough time to recover. Based on videos he’s shared on social media, he seems to be fully healthy and he’ll have plenty of time to get in football shape since training camp is several months away.

It’s not hyperbole to say that the addition of Ridley gives the Jaguars one of the best wide receiver corps in the league. With tight end Evan Engram not going anywhere in 2023, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Jacksonville have a top 5 offense in 2023, which might not have been possible if they had waited until this year’s free agency to round out their receiver group.

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