If they were to trade Ridley, who sat out most of the 2021 season, then Atlanta would be in dire need of a No. 1 receiving option for quarterback Matt Ryan, which brings us to a potential trade partner: the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys may be looking to trade their No. 1 receiver, Amari Cooper, suggested Dallas sports radio personality Bobby Belt on January 17, a day after the Cowboys were ousted from the playoffs.
In discussing possible destinations for Cooper if the Cowboys were to consider trading their star receiver, “Locked on Cowboys” cohosts Marcus Mosher and Landon McCool suggested the Falcons on the February 25 episode of their web series.
Could the two NFC teams swap No. 1 wideouts?
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Why Not Do a Wide Receiver Swap?
Cooper, 28, is about to enter the third year of a five-year contract with the Cowboys, who will owe him $20 million in 2022. Dallas does have an out in Cooper’s contract. They could cut him before March 20 and save the guaranteed money owed him. Of course, then the Cowboys would be without a No. 1 receiver.
Thus, the Cowboys could make a trade and still save money given that Ridley, 27, has an estimated cap hit of $11.1 million next season, according to Spotrac.
“I actually think Ridley would be a really good fit with Dak (Prescott, quarterback) and CeeDee (Lamb, wide receiver),” Mosher said. “I just don’t know if I’m giving up a lot for that player right now.”
Ridley played five games last season before leaving the game temporarily “to focus on his mental wellbeing.” Ridley’s mental health status could be a concern for teams interested in trading for him. Saving money with just a swap of wide receivers might not be worth it for Dallas.
“That’s [$5 million in cap savings] not enough for me,” McCool said. “I would need the picks, too. …I don’t know, the Calvin Ridley situation for them is not good as it stands right now. Atlanta’s not going to get anything from Calvin Ridley.
“So, for the Cowboys, they’re kind of doing them a little bit of a favor as well and on top of that, giving them Amari Cooper. So, we want the picks as well.”
The Falcons Cap Situation Wouldn’t Allow This Trade
In his seven-year career, Cooper has five seasons of more than 1,000 receiving yards, and he has 46 career touchdowns. His going to Atlanta could be a game-changer for the Falcons’ offense.
That being said, it seems unlikely the Falcons could take on Cooper’s $20 million yearly salary. Currently, the salary of one player — Ryan — takes up 23% of the Falcons payroll. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Ryan’s projected cap hit of over $48.6 million will be the largest in NFL history.
No to mention that it’s also very unlikely they could afford to trade away draft picks, along with their former top receiver, while in the midst of a full rebuild.