NFL reinstates Jaguars WR Ridley after gambling suspension
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The NFL reinstated suspended receiver Calvin Ridley on Monday, clearing the way for him to join his new team in Jacksonville.
The league said Ridley, who had been suspended indefinitely since March 2022 for violating the NFL’s gambling policy, is eligible to participate in all team activities beginning immediately. He is expected to join the Jaguars for offseason workouts beginning April 17.
“Today’s reinstatement by the NFL brings an end to a challenging chapter of my professional career, one that was self-inflicted and began with an isolated lapse in judgement," Ridley said in a statement. "I have always owned my mistakes, and this is no different.
"I have great respect for the game and am excited for the opportunity to restart my career in Jacksonville. I look forward to showing my new coaches, teammates and the entire Jaguars organization exactly who I am and what I represent as a player and person.”
The Jaguars gave up a fifth-round pick in 2023 and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2024 to get Ridley from Atlanta at the trading deadline in November. He was suspended after the league determined he bet on NFL games in 2021 while away from the Falcons to address mental health concerns.
The NFL's investigation uncovered no evidence inside information was used or that any game was compromised by Ridley’s betting.
Ridley petitioned the league for reinstatement last month, the first day he was eligible.
Now, the Jaguars are adding a potential game-changing receiver to an offense that was ranked fifth in the league in total yards in 2022. He will join fellow receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram as top targets for quarterback Trevor Lawrence in 2023.
“We look forward to building a relationship with Calvin as both an individual and as a player," The Jaguars said in a statement. "Calvin is a proven playmaker, and we are excited to see him compete among and with his new teammates, first during our Offseason Program in April and ultimately into the 2023 season, as we collectively pursue a championship for Jacksonville.”
Ridley had 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. He had 31 receptions for 281 yards and two scores before sitting out the final two months of the 2021 season.
Although no Jaguars officials could have any contact with Ridley, general manager Trent Baalke said he was "confident in the due diligence that we did.”
It helped that Jacksonville had Steve Sabo on staff. Sabo spent the previous 12 seasons in Atlanta’s scouting department, including the previous two as the team’s director of player personnel. He was Atlanta’s director of college scouting when the Falcons drafted Ridley with the 26th overall pick in 2018.
Ridley also had developed a close relationship with Kirk and was college teammates with current Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson. Both raved about Ridley's character and leadership in conversations with Baalke and coaches.
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Mark Long, The Associated Press