If the Falcons make Calvin Ridley available for a trade this offseason, several teams will undoubtedly be in touch with Atlanta trying to acquire the wide receiver.
In fact, Ridley's market is expected to be "robust" if the Falcons officially place him on the trading block, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Fowler spoke to an assortment of NFL executives, coaches and scouts for an article this week, making 10 predictions regarding this upcoming offseason. Ridley being traded to a contender was one of them.
Here's Fowler with the latest on the star receiver:
Ridley missed 12 games after stepping away from football to work on his mental health. But assuming he's back in an NFL lineup in 2022 and is in a good space, several teams view him as a top-10 receiver. His market would be robust. Ridley is due a fifth-year option of $11.16 million next season.
"Atlanta is cash-strapped and needs pieces along the offensive line, so they could use the draft capital," an NFC scout said.
What could the Falcons get in return? One league exec says a conditional second-round pick -- which could turn into a first-rounder based on playing time -- seems like a sweet spot for Ridley. That would allow the team to cover itself if he can't play a full season. The Patriots, Saints and Dolphins are among receiver-needy teams that could covet a top pass-catcher like Ridley.
New England, New Orleans and Miami would certainly benefit from Ridley's services, putting them in an even better position when it comes to contention in 2022. Ridley played with Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama, so that might play a role. Like Fowler mentioned, however, we're talking about a top-10 receiver when he's on the field. You have to imagine other contenders that could use a boost in their wide receiver room will at the very least be interested.
Over the weekend, Jon Hoefling of Deadspin mentioned the Colts, Bears and Packers as teams that would be in the market for a top wideout like Ridley as well.
Then again, can each of those contenders compete with teams like the Jets or Jaguars that have the draft capital to really catch Atlanta's attention in a trade offer?
New York, for instance, has two picks toward the beginning of the second round (No. 35 and No. 38 overall). If the Falcons want to start over with a new wideout or add talent at another position, there will be a slew of top-rated prospects available in that area of the draft. Just last year, the Jets picked Elijah Moore 34th overall and he was a revelation for much of the second half of the season in green and white.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas spoke about his team's ability to be "aggressive" this offseason, potentially trading picks for proven talent to accelerate this team's rebuild. Ridley would be a textbook example of that approach, using picks to give a young quarterback another stellar weapon to work with and elevate the entire offense.
It's also worth noting that New York reportedly prefers to trade the No. 10 overall pick in the first round. That might be the best first-round pick the Falcons could possibly get in a Ridley trade—Atlanta would have to give more than just the receiver in return, though.
Speaking of young quarterbacks, Jacksonville also has a surplus of picks in the 2022 NFL draft and could offer a package with multiple selections. In addition to the first overall pick, the Jaguars pick first in every round except the fifth. Could No. 33 in the second round be enough to convince Atlanta to pull the trigger on a trade? Maybe a second-rounder and a late-round pick for good measure?
Finally, when it comes to teams with draft flexibility, you have to mention a club like the Eagles. Philadelphia is slated to be on the clock three times in the middle of the first round (15th, 16th and 19th) in addition to the No. 51 pick in the second round. Maybe Atlanta could send an additional pick with Ridley for one of those first-rounders?
Plus, Ridley has the Alabama connection with Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts as well. Although Fowler reported in this aforementioned story that the Eagles will likely shop for a new QB this offseason (a trend we could witness with a plethora of teams across the league over the next several months).
Again, if Ridley becomes available, he'll instantly become a hot commodity. Only certain clubs have the goods to negotiate effectively with the Falcons, though.
- NFL Mock Draft: Aidan Hutchinson Slips to Jets, New York Trades 10th Overall Pick
- Why the Jets Should Draft Treylon Burks
- NFL Insider Reveals What Really Happened With Mekhi Becton's 'Mysterious' Injury