Sunday, March 3, 2024

NFL reinstates Ridley from gambling suspension

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The NFL on Monday fully reinstated Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley from his suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy.

Ridley, who had applied for reinstatement from his indefinite suspension for gambling on NFL games on Feb. 15, is now eligible to participate in all team activities immediately.

“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,” Ridley said in a statement. “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.”

The Jaguars also released a statement saying they were looking forward to integrating Ridley into the offense: “Calvin is a proven playmaker and we are excited to see him compete among and with his new teammates, first during our Offseason Program in April and ultimately into the 2023 season, as we collectively pursue a championship for Jacksonville.”

Ridley was suspended for at least the 2022 season on March 7 last year after an investigation found that he bet on NFL games over a five-day stretch in November 2021 while he was away from the Atlanta Falcons. A league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter last March that the league determined Riley placed parlay bets that included the Falcons to win via his mobile device out of state.

In a series of tweets after the suspension was announced, Ridley admitted his bets totaled $1,500 but said he doesn’t have a gambling problem.

The Jaguars traded for Ridley on Nov. 1 — sending the Falcons a 2023 fifth-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2024 that could rise as high as a second-round pick if the Jaguars sign Ridley to an extension. Ridley now will be paid a guaranteed $11.116 million in 2023 as the fifth-year option from the rookie deal he signed with the Falcons after being drafted 26th overall in 2018.

Ridley hasn’t played in an NFL game since Oct. 24, 2021. Ridley left the Falcons seven days later and said in a statement that he “needed to step away from football at this time and focus on my mental wellbeing.”

Ridley, 28, had 248 catches for 3,342 yards and 28 touchdowns in 49 games with the Falcons, including 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. If he’s able to play at a similar level to what he did in 2020 (90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns), the Jaguars could have one of the best offenses in the NFL.

Ridley will join a Jaguars pass-catching unit that was bolstered last year by free agent signings. The Jaguars signed receivers Christian Kirk (four years, $72 million, $37 million guaranteed) and Zay Jones (three years, $24 million, $14 million guaranteed) and tight end Evan Engram (one year, $9 million) to free agent contracts last March, and all three set career highs in receptions and receiving yards.

The Jaguars officially placed the franchise tag on Engram on Monday. Sources had told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler last week that it was expected that Engram would be receiving the tag.

“Lord knows how excited my family and I are to be staying in Jax! Hopefully we can get a long term deal done soon,” he tweeted Monday.

The Jaguars finished 10th in the NFL in scoring (23.8 points per game), passing (232.9 yards) and total offense (357.4 yards) in 2022.

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