Even if the NFL has embraced legal sports betting, it’s still taking a hard line when players are involved in gambling.
Falcons WR Calvin Ridley has been suspended for the entire 2022 season after being caught betting on games last year. Under the current CBA, Ridley has three days to appeal the decision.
Assuming the suspension is upheld, Ridley loses $11.1 million in 2022 salary, which would free up cap space — but cost the Falcons their best wideout.
- In 2020 — his last full season — he put up 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns.
- The Falcons currently have only two receivers under contract next season: second-year players Frank Darby and Austin Trammell.
- Even with the corresponding cap space, Atlanta still has the 13th-highest total cap ($204.9M) in the league.
Many of Atlanta’s fiscal woes stem from QB Matt Ryan, whose $48.7 million 2022 cap hit is the highest in the NFL, rendering the 36-year-old virtually untradeable.
The Falcons’ best option for replacing Ridley could be the upcoming NFL Draft — where a particularly deep WR pool awaits.
However, Atlanta may have to focus on bolstering its defense first — that unit ranked 30th in points per game (27.0), 26th in yards per game (364.4), and 30th in DVOA.