The Patriots’ next No. 1 pass catcher may have to come via trade, but it’s not impossible. Trade rumors are already starting to simmer about the Atlanta Falcons and star wideout Calvin Ridley.
At the very least, there are multiple NFC teams that have put thought into it. One scout told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that Ridley could end up getting traded because the Falcons are “cash-strapped and needs pieces along the offensive line, so they could use the draft capital.” As for a possible asking price, another league exec estimated a conditional second round pick that could turn into a first.
Fowler names the Patriots, Saints, and Dolphins as teams who “could covet” Ridley.
Offensively, the Pats took a step forward in 2021 after overhauling the skill positions in free agency and the draft. They identified legitimate building blocks with receiver Kendrick Bourne and tight end Hunter Henry, while Jakobi Meyers set new career highs with 83 catches and 866 yards and finally caught his first career touchdown.
But in order to maximize quarterback Mac Jones’ potential during his rookie deal, the Patriots may need to land more of a high-end pass-catching target for him, someone he can trust to make a play in any situation and in the most important ones. Meyers, Bourne, and Henry have shown some dependability and even in the clutch, but they’re not the level of talent that Ridley is.
Entering 2021, Ridley had established himself as a legitimate upper-echelon receiver with the Falcons, and a guy who could be the No. 1 pass-catching option on many teams. He caught. career-high 90 passes for 1,374 yards in 2020, with nine touchdowns. He was productive right out of the gate for the Falcons with 10 touchdowns as a rookie out of Alabama.
Ridley was never teammates with Jones in college, but he did play with running back Damien Harris and linebacker Anfernee Jennings. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots had Ridley on a “small list” of possible picks at No. 23 in the 2018 NFL Draft. They ultimately opted for tackle Isaiah Wynn.