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Calvin Ridley & Atlanta Falcons: 'Fresh Start' Should Lead to Blockbuster Trade

Ridley coming back to work for Atlanta? A trade make sense, because his return to the Falcons is an issue.

In late November, we attempted to approach the discussion about Calvin Ridley's future in Atlanta first by pondering the question: Is there a sensitive and responsible way to discuss both Ridley's mental-health challenges and his employer's related challenges when it comes to on-field performance, roster-building and the salary cap?

We said then: "The Atlanta Falcons are obliged to find that way'' while taking an education guess that the team and the star player are done with one another.

That concept is now gaining momentum, with respected NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche telling our friends at on the "Dukes and Bell'' show that he agrees with the notion that "Ridley's future with the team is in jeopardy.''

Said Wyche: “I’d think so. The fact that he and the team have been so quiet and he hasn’t surfaced, it appears like both sides could be looking for a fresh start.”

Ridley, arguably the team's best player, departed the Falcons on Halloween in order to work on his mental health. It was the second time this season Ridley left his team, and a month later, there's no sign of him returning to the squad this season.

It was always a safe assumption that his status would not change for the 2021. It would be foolish to assume much else beyond that. ... but an educated guess tells us his relationship with the Falcons for 2022 will not be a sunny one.

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Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has been asked again and again about an update.

"Got no update," said Smith. "As soon as we get an update, we'll give you an update."

We wrote in November: "The fact that Smith stonewalls the questions each week, and the fact it's been radio silence from Ridley since he issued his statement about taking a leave, likely speaks volumes about Ridley's intention and/or emotional ability to return to the Falcons ...''

As daydreams of what it might've been like to employ Julio Jones (traded last offseason, Kyle Pitts (drafted last offseason) and Ridley in the same offense die ... that is problematic on many levels.

It is not just a cliche to note that the player's health should be prioritized. But it is not a reality to ignore all of the implications.

Ridley turned 27 recently. He has a great deal of football success in front of him, should he choose to pursue that. Meanwhile, the option on his contract has already been picked up by the Falcons for next year. He's due a raise from $1.97 million this year to $11.1 million in 2022, fully-guaranteed. How to make the money work in a trade will be an issue. And Ridley coming back to work for Atlanta? A trade make sense, because he return to the Falcons is an issue as well.