Patriots’ Pass-Rusher Named Potential Trade Bait for Falcons’ Calvin Ridley

Calvin Ridley

Getty Should Calvin Ridley be swapped for a Patriots' pass-rusher?

Calvin Ridley looks set to play his football away from the Atlanta Falcons in 2022. There’s too many trade rumors swirling around the talented wide receiver for the Falcons to not at least explore a deal this offseason.

Ridley, who took time away from the NFL for his mental wellbeing last season, is still a legitimate No. 1 receiver. He’ll be sure to draw interest if put on the trading block, where he would also fetch the Falcons a tidy bounty.

One area the Falcons need help is in the pass-rush department, after the defense logged a league-low 18 sacks in 2021. Dealing Ridley could help solve the problem if the Falcons flipped him for a talented, but underused edge-rusher from the New England Patriots.

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That’s the scenario mapped out by one prominent NFL writer who sees an obvious match of need and players between the Falcons and Pats.

Former Third-Round Pick Offers Good Return for Ridley

It’s no secret the Falcons need some game-changers on the edges of defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ front seven. Just like it’s common knowledge Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick needs to equip second-year quarterback Mac Jones with a playmaking pass-catcher on the outside.

Both problems could be solved with a simple trade, according to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell: “Ridley could net them a second-round pick and/or young talent in a trade — I keep looking at the Patriots, who need a No. 1 wideout and have a useful pass-rusher they don’t seem to want in former Michigan end Chase Winovich.”

Nabbing “a second-round pick and/or” Chase Winovich would be ample compensation for losing Ridley. The deal could give Falcons’ general manager Terry Fontenot three picks in the second round.

In this case, the Falcons would take New England’s 53rd-overall selection to go with the 52nd and 58th picks. The latter was netted from the trade that sent Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans last year.

Dealing another prominent wideout would also make sense if it means getting some pass-rush help. Winovich could provide it, despite a disappointing third season.

He showed plenty of early promise as a third-round pick for the Pats in 2019. Winovich logged 5.5 sacks in each of his first two years in the pros.

As a rookie, Winovich (50) flashed the ability to consistently beat offensive tackles around the corner and close on quarterbacks. His performances caught the eyes of many, including Marcus Mosher, managing editor of The Raiders Wire:

Winovich took the confidence he accrued as a rookie into his second year, where he continued to make plays. He remained particularly effective winning off the edge from either side of the line, like on this play against Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders, captured by Ryan Spagnoli of SB Nation’s Pats Pulpit:

Things changed for Winovich in 2021 when a hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve. He was activated again in mid-November, but Winovich’s performances on the field failed to impress and he was outshone by new arrival Matthew Judon.

He “only played in 13 games and logged zero sacks and 11 total tackles,” according to Michael DeVito of Fansided’s Chowder and Champions. DeVito accused Winovich of experiencing “big-time regression” and named him as one of the players the Patriots should consider trading this offseason.

His career may have stalled somewhat, but Winovich remains a player perfect for the Falcons and Pees’ schemes. Like Belichick, Pees values versatile pass-rushers who can line up all over the front and take various angles to the quarterback.

If Winovich is available, the Falcons need only float Ridley’s name to get the Pats interested in making a deal.

Patriots Popular Trade Partners for Ridley

Many people view the Patriots as ideal trade partners for Ridley. They include Denver Broncos Insider Benjamin Allbright:

Then there’s Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, who believes the Pats should part with a second-round pick to land Ridley. The addition “opens things up for everyone” in the Patriots’ passing game, according to Spielberger.

It’s clear the Patriots have a need for a wide receiver with Ridley’s skills. Jakobi Myers is tough and sure-handed, but he’s not explosive enough to frighten defenses. Kendrick Bourne is an interesting, roving weapon, but he’s not a go-to target.

The Patriots need Ridley and have an excess of pass-rushers, exactly the type of players the Falcons must stockpile this offseason.

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