General manager Trent Baalke says he would like to bring back wide receiver Calvin Ridley. However, there's no guarantee the Jacksonville Jaguars will re-sign him. In fact, rumor has it that they weren't thrilled with Ridley's work habits last year. If the Jags end up letting the star wide receiver walk in free agency, Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus believes the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs would be ideal landing spots for him.
Spielberger recently put together a list of potential destinations for some pending free agents and believes Ridley would be a great fit in either Chicago or the Chiefs. The Bears have ample cap space at their disposal, and head coach Matt Eberflus could be in the hot seat. That's the perfect recipe to go into a spending spree in free agency. That said, they're in the cellar of the NFC North and play in a different conference. It wouldn't affect the Jaguars much. Kansas City is a whole different deal.
The Chiefs are currently preparing for the Super Bowl. They've shown in previous years that they're not afraid of going after top free-agent talent to ensure that they're in a position to compete for a championship. As recently as last year, the Jaguars were trying to keep up with them. Now, they find themselves having to catch up to the Houston Texans in the AFC South.
In regards to Jacksonville, losing Ridley to Kansas City would make it more difficult for them to keep up in the race for the division title. On the other hand, Spielberger believes he would be a great addition to Patrick Mahomes' arsenal of weapons.
"Kansas City has shown time and time again that it isn’t going to make free agent splashes on older players, but perhaps the Chiefs buy low on a very good player who fits their play style profile as a really good separator with late hands. "
Spielberg goes on to point out that the Chiefs will be selecting 31st or 32nd in the first round, so they're better off going after a wide receiver in free agency.
Receiver was, without a doubt, one of Kansas City's biggest deficiencies this past season. Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce were able to mask it but the Chiefs' front office will probably make it a priority in the offseason. 2023 second-round pick Rashee Rice was their top receiver, catching 79 receptions for 938 yards with 11 touchdowns. While those aren't bad numbers, no other receiver on the Chiefs roster had more than 40 receptions last year.
Kelce led the team with 93 catches and running back Isaiah Pacheco was third with 44. The trade they made for Kadarious Toney in 2022 was officially a disaster last year. The former first-round pick mustered just 27 receptions, struggling with drops and mental errors throughout the season. By going after a receiver of Ridley's caliber, the Chiefs would ensure they remain a Super Bowl-caliber team.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are better off keeping Calvin Ridley
Calvin Ridley hauled in 76 receptions for 1,016 yards with eight touchdowns last year. He's set to become a free agent and will be in demand if he's available. The Jacksonville Jaguars should make an aggressive effort to re-sign him. However, they'll have to give up a second-round pick as part of the trade they made to acquire him in 2022 if they give him an extension. That could prompt them to let him walk.
On the flip side, Ridley is a proven commodity. Granted, he needs to develop more consistency and a better rapport with Trevor Lawrence. But the Jaguars are better off re-signing him and focusing on filling other holes in the offseason rather than letting him walk and creating yet another need.
Sure, there will be no shortage of promising prospects in the draft but there's no guarantee the Jacksonville Jaguars will be able to replace Calvin Ridley. Why not go with the devil they know?