Calvin Ridley's $11.1M Contract Option Exercised by Falcons Ahead of Deadline

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 3, 2021

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 13:  Calvin Ridley #18 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball after a reception against Kyzir White #44 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the fourth quarter at SoFi Stadium on December 13, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons announced Monday that they have exercised the $11.1 million option in Calvin Ridley's contract for the 2022 season. 

Ridley's option being picked up was seemingly little more than a matter of procedure after he emerged as a second-team All-Pro selection in 2020. The Alabama product recorded 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns while largely taking over for an injured Julio Jones as the Falcons' top wideout.

It's likely picking up Ridley's fifth-year option is only a precursor to a long-term contract extension. The 26-year-old tweeted in January that he is ready to ink a long-term deal, which will almost certainly be at least double his $11.1 million fifth-year option on a per-year basis.

Jones will almost certainly return for 2021, but the 32-year-old's long-term future with the franchise is in question. The Falcons faced questions about whether they would trade their all-time leading receiver, and general manager Terry Fontenot acknowledged that no player is untouchable:

"We hold that player in high regard. Pointing to the cap, pointing to the fact that we will answer calls on any players. When teams ask about players, we have to answer those calls. We have to listen because we knew when we stepped into this, we were going to have to make some tough decisions because it's just the reality of it, that's where we are with the salary cap. So we have to make some difficult decisions, so we have to look at all of the different options and all of the different scenarios so if someone calls about any player, we have to discuss it and do what's right for the team."

The Falcons ultimately chose to keep Jones through the 2021 draft, but the writing is on the wall. Ridley is the future and potentially present WR1 in Atlanta.