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If you need more signs the Jacksonville Jaguars are starting to look like a franchise that gets it and will be a factor in the AFC South for a while, you got more of those when receiver Calvin Ridley was reinstated by the NFL and the club used the franchise tag on tight end Evan Engram on Monday.
The Engram move was expected. But it speaks to the Jaguars finding a player discarded by another team (the Giants), signing him to a one-year deal, then developing him into one of the team’s primary offensive weapons worth keeping.
Ridley is the former Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick who last March 7 was suspended by the league for betting what he claimed was $1,500 on NFL games. That move forced the receiver to sit out all of last season without pay.
“Today’s reinstatement by the NFL bring an end to a challenging chapter of my professional career, one that was self-inflicted and bean with an isolated lapse in judgment,” Ridley said in a statement released by the team.
“I have always owned my mistakes and this is no different. I have great respect for the gameand am excited for the opportunity to restart my career in Jacksonville.”
These two moves give the Jaguars the look of a team far removed from the embarrassment of the Urban Meyer season in 2021.
Evan Engram Addition Worked
Ridley’s reinstatement means he is eligible to participate in all team activities, effective immediately, according to the NFL.
So two weeks before free agency and seven weeks before the NFL draft, the Jaguars just got much more explosive. At least on paper.
“I can only go off of what I’ve seen on film,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said of Ridley last week at the NFL Combine. “He’s excitable. He’s a top receiver in this league when he’s on his game. I’m excited when that day comes that we can embrace him onto our team, and he gives us just another weapon, potentially, for Trevor (Lawrence).”
The day is coming. And just in time.
The fact is the Jaguars just added a player who arguably might have been the top receiver selected had he been in the upcoming draft. Ridley was the second receiver picked in the 2018 draft, ahead of future Jaguars teammate Christian Kirk.
And, it must be said, the coming draft doesn’t offer the deep class of dynamic receivers the past couple of drafts have clearly enjoyed.
So the Jaguars’ timing on this move seems pretty good.
Calvin Ridley Trade Shows Promise
Obviously, there are unknowns: Before his suspension, Ridley left the Falcons to attend to personal matters so it is important to find out if he has found a way to get himself fully vested in his return.
And, of course, there is the matter of Ridley regaining his form after more than a year away from the NFL.
But the move seems nonetheless promising.
A small matter of trade compensation:
The Jaguars must give the Falcons a fifth-round pick for Ridley in the coming draft and future considerations depending on what happens with Ridley going forward.
Ridley will play the 2023 on his tolled 2022 fifth-year option. So he will make $11.1 million from the Jaguars, assuming he makes the club.
If he makes the ballclub, the Jaguars must give the Falcons a future fourth-round pick.
If Ridley hits certain performance milestones, the Jags will pay a third-round pick.
And if Ridley is so good that Jacksonville extends his contract beyond this season, the compensation will rise to a second round pick.
Still worthwhile for a team looking to surround Lawrence with as many weapons as possible so he can rise to be among the most productive quarterbacks in the league.
All this for a team that won the AFC South last season and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs versus eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City with a comeback victory over the Chargers in the wildcard round.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero