Calvin Ridley Free Agency Watch: Landing Spots and Free Agency Outlook

by Matt Babich · Contracts & Free Agency
Calvin Ridley contract

PlayerProfiler is home to the very best dynasty rankings and tools in the industry. Our Dynasty Deluxe package includes complete Dynasty Rankings, Rookie Rankings, Trade Analyzer, Draft Planner, Mock Drafts, and more. Check it out. Welcome to PlayerProfiler’s 2024 Free Agency Preview! This year, we’ll be providing you with player-by-player insights as we approach the Free Agency period opening March 13th. In the last edition, we broke down the free agency outlook for Baker Mayfield. Calvin Ridley‘s one-year deal in Jacksonville is up, so we’ll continue this series by examining the potential landing spots and free agency outlook of the Jacksonville Jaguars receiver.

2023 Review

Calvin Ridley’s first season with the Jaguars had its high points, but was ultimately a disappointing year. Despite being pumped up to a late 2nd round pick in fantasy, he finished as the WR27 in fantasy points per game. He struggled to consistently produce throughout the season, ev with teammate Christian Kirk missing five games.

Kirk outdid Ridley in nearly all receiving metrics. Kirk was better in Yards per Route Run, Yards Per Team Pass Attempt, Route Win Rate, True Catch Rate, and Expected Points Added. Ridley, of course, had more spike weeks and was the go-to target in the red zone. That being said, he was not the bona fide Alpha many were making him out to be.

Ridley’s 2023 results were not very surprising. Regardless of position, returning to the game after being away for over a year is very difficult, and coming back as if you were never gone is a real challenge. In-game chemistry between QB and receiver takes time to develop. Further, becoming re-acclimated with running route concepts with pads on is easier said than done. Ultimately, this should have been the expected outcome all along (as many at PlayerProfiler announced all offseason).

Most Likely Landing Spots

Jacksonville Jaguars

Current reports are that both parties want to work together again next season. However, there are some murmurs that Jacksonville were frustrated with Ridley’s performance last season. Walter Football reports that Jacksonville may opt to draft a big-bodied wide receiver in the first two rounds of the draft rather than spending money on Ridley. While there is probably little certainty to that rumor at the moment, the broader point is that the Jags may not value Ridley at the $20 million franchise tag value.

One of the obstacles to returning to Jacksonville is that the Jags likely already have their franchise tender spoken for. Teams only get to franchise tag one player, and Josh Allen is currently the team’s top priority. If the team is unable to reach a contract agreement before the franchise tag deadline, they’ll likely tag the star pass rusher. This would leave Ridley open to suitors around the league. Secondly, and most detrimentally, the Jaguars would owe the Falcons their 2024 2nd round pick if they re-signed Ridley per the trade terms. $20 millionĀ and a 2nd round pick? Woof.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears will be looking to add pieces around Caleb Williams. In a Texans-esque move to be competitive with their new QB right away, Chicago could opt to sign Ridley and load up the offense. Waltzing in with $49 million in cap space, they have plenty of cash to sign Ridley without forfeiting other roster additions.

The addition of Ridley could make the Bears one of the NFC’s most potent offenses right away, if Williams is who we say he is. The Bears can’t afford another quarterback bust. In order to develop their star quarterback and take advantage of his rookie contract window, the Bears will look to surround him with as much talent as humanly possible. Signing Ridley would be a good start.

Kansas City Chiefs

Observers have labeled the Chiefs as another probable landing spot for Ridley. While I’m not as bought in to this possibility, there are valid reasons why it could happen. First, the receivers surrounding Patrick Mahomes are clearly lackluster. However they acquire them, they need more talent around Mahomes to avoid similar offensive struggles next season.

Considering that, I won’t consider KC a legit option if Ridley’s price tag approaches the $20 million franchise tag value. The Chiefs have made it this far without a high-priced receiver. Kansas City doesn’t have to spend nearly all of their available cap space on a receiver. At that point, they might as well keep drafting talent and work out the kinks throughout the regular season.

Predicted Landing Spot

Jacksonville did not find Ridley impressive. From the disappointing box score stats to being outperformed by his counterpart Kirk, there are signals that suggest the Jags would be better off spending money elsewhere and finding a replacement for Ridley. The Jags have holes to fill, and not a lot of money to work with. Not only did they not find him impressive, it would be one of the most expensive receiver signings in recent history (considering the 2nd round pick they’d lose).

I’m slotting Ridley in as a Chicago Bear next season. This is the perfect opportunity for the Bears to spend up on a short-term contract and use Ridley to develop their future franchise quarterback. From the cap availability to the team needs, Ridley to Chicago makes a lot of sense. I expect Ridley to be signing in the Windy City after talks with Jacksonville turn sour.

See Matt Babich’s Free Agency Outlook for Josh Jacobs here.