With the NFL’s trade deadline for the 2022 season looming at 3 p.m. CDT Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons got two draft picks for a wide receiver who won’t be able to play until the 2023 season at the earliest.
That didn’t prevent the Jacksonville Jaguars from trading for Ridley on Tuesday.
Ridley’s situation made for a complex trade. NFL Network and ESPN reported Jacksonville is sending a fifth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2024 draft to the Falcons. But there are conditions attached, and the 2023 pick could drop back to a sixth-rounder and the 2024 pick could wind up as a third-rounder or a second-rounder, depending on what happens.
In his third NFL season, Ridley had 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. But he has not played since Oct. 24, 2021.
After missing the Falcons’ game on Oct. 31, 2021, Ridley issued a statement that read: “These past few weeks have been very challenging, and as much as I’d like to be on the field competing with my teammates, I need to step away from football at this time and focus on my mental wellbeing. This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future. I want to thank my teammates, the entire Atlanta Falcons organization, our great fans, my friends and my family for all of their support during this time.”
The NFL announced Ridley placed the bets over a five-day period in late November, when he was on the non-football injury/illness list and away from the Falcons.
The NFL does not allow betting on its games by its players, coaches or any other team and league personnel. The league’s gambling policy states: “NFL personnel are restricted or prohibited from engaging in the following gambling-related activities, regardless of whether such activities are legal,” and the first prohibited activity listed is “betting on football.”
“All NFL personnel are prohibited from placing, soliciting or facilitating any bet, whether directly or indirectly through a third-party, on any NFL game, practice or other event,” the league’s gambling policy states. “This includes betting on game outcome, statistics, score, performance of any individual participant or any other kind of ‘proposition bet’ on which wagering is offered.”
Violators of the provision become subject to disciplinary action by the NFL commissioner, including “a fine, termination of employee and/or banishment from the NFL for life.”
Because the Falcons exercised their option on Ridley’s contract in 2021 for a fifth season, the former first-round draft choice was supposed to receive a guaranteed salary of $11.116 million for the 2022 campaign. The season-long suspension caused Ridley’s 2022 contract to roll ahead and be in effect in 2023 if the wide receiver is reinstated.
In 49 NFL regular-season games, Ridley has 248 receptions for 3,342 yards and 28 touchdowns. Only four other receivers in NFL history can match Ridley’s receiving stats through their first 49 games – Odell Beckham Jr., Marques Colston, Mike Evans and A.J. Green.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.