How the Eagles could pair another star WR with DeVonta Smith in 2022
It’s no secret that the Eagles will need another viable pass-catcher opposite DeVonta Smith next season.
Quez Watkins, 23, is the next leading receiver behind Smith — and while explosive at times, he isn’t consistent enough to be a reliable WR2 just yet. Jalen Reagor, dismally, isn’t the impact player the team had hoped for when they took him in the first round.
Earlier in the year, I wrote about five WR2 options the Eagles should target in free agency next year. With Chris Godwin, Michael Gallup, and DJ Chark all suffering season-ending injuries, one-year prove-it deals could be in the cards for GM Howie Roseman.
While I don’t believe it’s time to write off Reagor, it would be wise for the #Eagles to look into WR2 options for Hurts — granted he’s afforded another year as the starting quarterback.— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) November 24, 2021
Here are 5 second-tier WRs the team should target next offseason >>https://t.co/pUejkahJYr
However, there is another route the Eagles could take to acquire another top receiver.
NFL Network’s Steve Wyche was recently asked about the future of WR Calvin Ridley in Atlanta; he responded by stating that the two parties could be headed towards a mutual split:
Asked if Calvin Ridley’s future with the Falcons is in jeopardy @wyche89 tells @MikeBellATL & @putemupcdukes “I’d think so. The fact that he and the team have been so quiet and he hasn’t surfaced, it appears like both sides could be looking for a fresh start.” #dirtybirds— DukesandBell929 (@DukesandBell929) January 4, 2022
Ridley took a step away from the team — for the second time — back in October to address his mental health. The Falcons have provided no update on the situation since:
“Got no update,” said head coach Arthur Smith in November. “As soon as we get an update, we’ll give you an update. I’m not going to predict anything and take it day by day. If there’s an update, we’ll let you guys know.”
The fact that Ridley has shown no inclination to return to the Falcons and/or hasn’t contacted the team likely indicates that the relationship is fractured.
Atlanta has already picked up Ridley’s contract option for next year, which means they’d be responsible for his $11.1M salary (fully guaranteed) even if they cut him. The only way to get off the hook — send him to a new team.
Enter the Philadelphia Eagles. Looking back at past deals that were made for bonafide wide receivers in their prime, a potential trade for Calvin Ridley could look like this:
Falcons receive: 2022 2nd-round pick, 2022 5th-round pick (via WSH)
Eagles receive: WR Calvin Ridley
Thanks to Miami and Indianapolis, Philly currently holds three first-round selections in next year’s draft. Parting with a second-round pick and a 5th-rounder that they got from Washington in exchange for a stout WR is well worth the sacrifice.
Ridley had three straight 800+ yard seasons to begin his career in Atlanta, including a 2020 campaign where he caught 90 passes for 1374 yards and 9 TDs. Not to mention he’s one of the most lethal route-runners in the game.
The Eagles are projected to have around $14M in cap space next season and can free upwards of $30M with contract restructures — more than enough to bring on Ridley.
Acquiring an established receiver will allow Philadelphia to load up on defense in the draft while still providing Jalen Hurts with ample firepower. Alabama reunion, anyone?
Alabama WRs with 1,000+ yard seasons since 2010:— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) June 7, 2021
2020 DeVonta Smith – 1,856
2019 DeVonta Smith – 1,256
2019 Jerry Jeudy – 1,163
2018 Jerry Jeudy – 1,315
2015 Calvin Ridley – 1,045
2014 Amari Cooper – 1,727
2012 Amari Cooper – 1,000
2010 Julio Jones – 1,113 pic.twitter.com/bEMJN5Z7mX
Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports