The NY Jets are looking to do right by their quarterback, Zach Wilson, both this offseason and in the future. And what better way to do that than by acquiring a star wide receiver in the form of someone like Calvin Ridley?
Flashback to the 2020 offseason. The Buffalo Bills are coming off a surprising 10-6 season that saw young quarterback Josh Allen take an important step in his development.
But rather than rely on the receiving corps they had led by the likes of John Brown and Cole Beasley, the Bills decide to make a superstar splash trading for disgruntled Minnesota Vikings star Stefon Diggs.
Diggs would go on to take his game to a new level in Buffalo elevating the entire offense and, most importantly, allowing Allen to reach his full potential. The trade for Diggs was a franchise-altering decision on the part of Brandon Beane and the Bills front office.
As we return to the present, the Jets have the opportunity to make a similar move this offseason. Another star wide receiver finds himself the subject of trade rumors, and with a young QB in need of a true No. 1 target, the Jets have every reason to be interested.
Calvin Ridley can unlock the potential of Zach Wilson and the NY Jets offense
Now, let's first cover a few caveats. No, Ridley is not Diggs. Ridley has only one season of elite production under his belt and has a lot more question marks surrounding his availability than Diggs did.
The former first-round pick took an extended leave of absence this past season citing mental health reasons. That's a totally understandable and courageous decision on his part, but when analyzing his situation from a football/business perspective, everything has to be taken into account.
The Jets, or any team looking to trade for Ridley, will undoubtedly be a bit more cautious seeing as Ridley missed as much time as he did last season. That absolutely has an effect on his trade value.
Again, mental health comes first. At the end of the day, Calvin Ridley is a human being first and a professional athlete second. But NFL teams have to cover all bases and the lack of certainty surrounding his status must be considered.
Nonetheless, if the Jets feel confident about Ridley's availability, they absolutely have to make a serious play to acquire the star receiver.
Ridley broke out of Julio Jones' shadow in 2020 finishing with 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. He looked to be on pace for a similar season in 2021 before his absence.
Adding Ridley to the Jets' offense not only helps Zach Wilson, but it helps those around him too. It opens up more opportunities for Corey Davis and Elijah Moore who would have less pressure and attention on them.
That's how it worked in Buffalo. Diggs had a career year, as did Beasley at the age of 31, while rookie Gabriel Davis was productive as well. And, of course, there was Josh Allen who took the NFL by storm and developed into one of the game's premier quarterbacks.
Now, replicating that type of success is almost impossible. Trading for Ridley doesn't guarantee or even make a similar season likely. But it could have a very similar effect on Wilson and the offense.
The Jets need to ensure that they eliminate as many variables around Wilson as possible. They must surround him with talent, proper coaching, and a stable environment.
And if he fails, at least you have a proper infrastructure for your next quarterback. They can't make the same mistakes they did with Sam Darnold, and through one season, they've taken many steps in the right direction as an organization.
But the time is now for general manager Joe Douglas to be aggressive. Building through the draft can only get a team so far — sometimes you need to strike while the iron is hot.
Right now, that thing is scorching. And if Douglas doesn't do his part, the only thing that's hot will be his seat.