Calvin Ridley will play football in 2023.
The NFL announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver has been fully reinstated one year after he was indefinitely suspended for violating the league's gambling policy. Ridley is immediately eligible to participate in all team activities. He applied for reinstatement on Feb. 15.
Ridley released a statement about the end of what he called "a challenging chapter of my professional career," one that he admitted was "self-inflicted."
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 6, 2023
Ridley was originally suspended March 7, 2022, after an NFL investigation discovered he bet on games during the 2021 season when he was a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Ridley later admitted he bet $1,500 total and some of his bets, included Falcons games. Ridley played only five games in 2021 after he stepped away from football to focus on his mental health.
Not much was known after Ridley's situation throughout the duration of his suspension until the Jaguars surprisingly traded for him in the middle of the 2022 season. Because of Ridley's reinstatement, Jacksonville will now send at least a 2023 fifth-round draft pick to Atlanta (it would have been only a sixth had he not). The Jaguars will also send as high as a 2024 second-round pick to Atlanta if Ridley makes the team, hits his playing time incentives and signs a long-term extension with Jacksonville.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) March 6, 2023
Ridley joins suddenly talent-rich Jaguars
While Ridley immediately becomes the best pass-catching weapon on the Jaguars, he isn't alone.
Jacksonville finished the 2023 season with the 10th-best offense overall thanks to quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his supporting cast. Lawrence threw for 4,113 passing yards and 25 touchdowns, while wideouts Christian Kirk and Zay Jones finished with almost 2,000 combined receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns on 166 total receptions. Veteran receiver Marvin Jones added 529 yards and three touchdowns, while Evan Engram caught 73 balls for 766 yards and four touchdowns.
Second-year rusher Travis Etienne burst onto the scene as well with 1,125 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He added 35 catches for 316 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per touch in 2022.
Now throw Ridley into the mix and second-year head coach Doug Pederson has a full arsenal at his disposal to defend the Jaguars' AFC South crown. Ridley was coming off a career year in 2020 before his shortened 2021 campaign. He caught 90 balls for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in this third season. Ridley tallied 1,687 yards and 17 touchdowns combined over his first two years in the league. He finished with 31 receptions for 281 yards and two scores in five games in 2021.
Jacksonville went 9-8 in 2022 to secure its first division title and playoff berth since 2017 thanks to a 6-1 record out of the team's Week 11 bye. The Jaguars rallied from a 27-0 deficit to upset the Los Angeles Chargers in the wild-card round before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs the following week.