The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for wide receiver Calvin Ridley last year even though he was serving a suspension because they knew they were getting a playmaker. Looking back, it was a smart decision, as Ridley is showing he's still the same player he was early in his stint with the Atlanta Falcons.
Ridley has done nothing but work hard since being reinstated from a suspension for betting on football games. This has led the coaching staff and players to praise him. In particular, Trevor Lawrence says that Ridley's ball skills haven't stopped impressing him and added that he's ecstatic that he joined the wide receiver corps.
"To me, he's still impressive," Lawrence said during an exchange with the local media. "Watching him, the way he runs, there's not many guys like that, especially in and out his breaks, He's crafty, obviously, great ball skills and you haven't even seen it yet because we're not in pads and we're not full contact but I think after the catch he's really good too,"
"In spring, we were working him in, so we didn't get a ton of reps. Now that we're camp, we're full go. I'm excited to build on that. He's going to fill in really well with that group, Zay [Jones], [Jamal] Agnew, and Christian [Kirk] and Evan [Engram], and all the other receivers. He's going to fit in great," Lawrence said.
While many players managed to stand out on Day 1, Ridley and Lawrence stole the spotlight. Maybe it's because Ridley is still the difference-maker he was before he retired in 2021. Or it's possible that the quarterback/receiver tandem is getting lots of attention because Steezy Trev now has a true No. 1 receiver. Either way, you would see many videos and pictures of the duo practicing. Here's one where the Alabama product showcases his pass-catching skills.
A first-round pick in the 2018 draft, Ridley quickly became a playmaker for the Falcons. However, he played with a broken foot in 2021 and was going through a lot of stuff. Not being able to focus or performing at the best of his capacities, he called it quits after just five games that year. During his retirement, Ridley was suspended indefinitely for betting on football games and missed the 2022 campaign.
Nevertheless, the Jags took a chance on Ridley and traded for him. Since being reinstated back in March, he's made headlines for how explosive he looks in practice. Even though contact wasn't allowed in offseason workouts and the Jags haven't had any padded practices, he's managed to shine.
Calvin Ridley gives the Jaguars yet another weapon to their offensive arsenal
Trevor Lawrence already had a talented receiving duo in Zay Jones and Christian Kirk. On top of that, tight end Evan Engram became a playmaker for Jacksonville last year. However, the front office saw there was room for improvement and didn't waste the opportunity to add Ridley to an already stacked offense.
The reviews are in and Ridley seems to be everything the Jaguars hoped for. Don't be surprised if they field a top 5 offense next season if they can stay healthy.