The NFL announced Monday that wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been reinstated following a one-year suspension for placing sports wagers on NFL games in 2021, including contests that involved the Atlanta Falcons while he was on the team.
Ridley was suspended by the league last March 7, covering at least the 2022 season. He applied for reinstatement on Feb. 15, the first day he was permitted to do so. Ridley is now eligible to participate in all Jaguars activities, effective immediately, and released a statement through the team on Monday.
“Today’s reinstatement by the NFL brings an end to a challenging chapter of my professional career, one that was self-inflicted and began with an isolated lapse in judgement,” he said. “I have always owned my mistakes and this is no different. I have great respect for the game and am excited for the opportunity to restart my career in Jacksonville. I look forward to showing my new coaches, teammates, and the entire Jaguars organization exactly who I am and what I represent as a player and person.”
Ridley’s suspension came as a result of his admission that he made at least three bets totaling $1,500 on the Falcons, but Sports Handle learned shortly after the suspension was handed down that the wideout had actually made six wagers totaling $3,900 from Nov. 23-28, 2021, while he was on the non-football illness (NFI) list.
I bet 1500 total I don’t have a gambling problem
— CALVIN RIDLEY (@CalvinRidley1) March 7, 2022
Five wagers were parlays and one was a $1,300 in-game wager placed in the second half of Atlanta’s 21-14 victory over Jacksonville on Nov. 28, 2021. All six bets involving the Falcons graded as losses. Ridley had been placed on the NFI list in early November 2021, taking a break from football to focus on his mental well-being, according to a statement he wrote.
Last Nov. 1, the Falcons traded Ridley to the Jaguars for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2023 and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2024. With Ridley reinstated, the 2023 pick is now a fifth-rounder, while the 2024 pick could be as high as a second-rounder based on playing time and whether Ridley, who forfeited a base salary of $11.1 million in 2022, signs a long-term extension with Jacksonville.
Impact on futures markets forthcoming?
Let’s go brother 🙌🏼 https://t.co/2YAB8c9eAN
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) February 16, 2023
The Jaguars, who surprised many by making the playoffs last season as AFC South champions, are prohibitive favorites among oddsmakers to win the division again, with preseason futures ranging from -143 to -150 at major sportsbooks. Jacksonville is listed between +1300 and +1500 to win the AFC, while Super Bowl futures range from +2200 to +2800.
Ridley is projected to headline a receiving corps that was successfully overhauled prior to the 2022 season via free agency with the signings of wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, along with tight end Evan Engram, to help quarterback and 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Kirk had a career season with 84 catches for 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns, while Jones posted career bests of 82 receptions and 823 yards.
Ridley, a former first-round kick by the Falcons in 2018, had 248 catches for 3,342 yards and 28 touchdowns in his first five seasons in the league, which included playing only five games in 2021. He had 10 touchdown catches during his 2018 rookie season, and his best season came in 2020 when he had 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine TDs. Ridley, who is on the final year of his rookie contract and will make $11.1 million, will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Ridley’s wagering came less than eight months after the NFL signed deals with FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars making them official sports betting partners with the league. The NFL has been the primary driver of sports wagering handle in the United States, with handle having recently crossed $200 billion in the nearly five years since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA as unconstitutional in May 2018.
The only other NFL player suspended by the league for gambling since the PASPA ruling is former Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw. The league suspended Shaw in November 2019 after he was found to have bet on NFL contests while he was away from the team. The suspension covered the entire 2020 season, and he has yet to sign with another NFL team.