A crucial offseason looms for the NY Jets, as they look to continue building the roster in general manager Joe Douglas’ fourth season and head coach Robert Saleh’s second season with the team.
Both Saleh and Douglas have spoken publicly about the importance of surrounding 2021 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson with talented players both on the offensive line and at the skill positions, and there are many ways to acquire said players.
Falcons star wide receiver Calvin Ridley’s future with the team is reportedly uncertain, and he represents an opportunity to acquire a true No. 1 target for Wilson. Ridley missed 12 games in 2021 while battling mental health issues, but when healthy, Ridley is a proven game-changer.
In 2020, he finished fourth in the NFL among receivers in yards with 1,374, while totaling 90 catches and nine touchdowns. He’s an elite route runner with sure hands and standout athletic qualities — and a player Wilson would love throwing the ball to.
The NY Jets have the resources to make a Calvin Ridley trade happen
Few teams are as equipped as the Jets to make a trade like this one. With two first-round picks and plenty of cap space, the Jets have the ammo to entice the Falcons.
While the Jets surely want to maintain at least one of those first-round picks (likely No. 4 overall), the flexibility exists to use one of those picks, as well as other future draft assets, to get it done.
Ridley is under contract for 2022, so the Jets would get a star receiver on a relatively cost-controlled deal, as Ridley is still playing on his rookie contract.
However, he’s a free agent in 2023, so the Jets would have to consider a long-term extension when thinking about the prospects of trading for Ridley.
With the Jets still far away from contending for a Super Bowl, it makes no sense to acquire Ridley for one year then let him walk, so Gang Green would want to sign him long-term.
The NY Jets would be a good place for Calvin Ridley
If Ridley is looking for a change of scenery, the Jets would serve as a fresh place to start. With a young roster, a talented second-year quarterback, and plenty of resources to upgrade the roster available, Ridley is coming into a situation with promise — a chance to join a team on the rise.
Personnel-wise, the Jets' current receiving corps has talent; they just lack a top-tier difference-making player like Ridley. Corey Davis and Elijah Moore are under contract for multiple years, making a trio of Ridley, Davis, and Moore possible for at least two more years if the Jets sign Ridley to an extension.
Giving Wilson that core of playmakers would fulfill Douglas and Saleh’s desire to enhance the talent around their prized young quarterback.
What it would take from the NY Jets to acquire Calvin Ridley
The Falcons, who value Ridley tremendously as a security blanket for Matt Ryan, would likely have a rich asking price in a potential trade — and rightfully so. Though, since Ridley is a free agent in 2023, it makes him a little easier to acquire considering the uncertainty surrounding his future after 2022.
The Jets' fourth overall pick is too rich a price to pay for Ridley, but the Jets' second pick, No. 10 overall, likely would do it. This would give Atlanta two of the draft’s top 10 selections, as the Falcons’ original pick is eighth overall.
If the Jets don’t want to part ways with either of their 2021 first-round picks, they’re likely looking at parting ways with multiple mid-round picks this year, or an early 2023 selection, possibly with a condition attached to it.
With the Jets still devoid of talent overall, giving up a first-round pick in a future draft, and therein stripping themselves of their only first-round selection in that draft, doesn’t seem wise.
In addition to a draft pick or two, the Jets could also include a player in a trade with Atlanta. While it depends what player they’d trade away, my hunch is that the Jets would be reluctant to do this, as they’re not in a position to give away quality players — after all, that would just create another void to fill.
It's unclear whether the Jets and Falcons have had any specific discussions about a trade involving Ridley, but discussions happen between peers every day around the league, and I’m sure someone in the Jets front office has at least kicked the tires.
Given the Jets' status as a rebuilding team with a young quarterback, exploring all avenues to acquire difference-making players is prudent, and trading for Calvin Ridley represents an opportunity to bolster the team's offensive core for years to come.