If Jalen Hurts is indeed going to be the franchise starter in Philadelphia – and it’s heading in that direction – then the Eagles would be wise to load up on talent at the skill positions. DeVonta Smith is entrenched as Hurts’ go-to receiver, with Dallas Goedert playing the role of trusty safety valve at tight end.
Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins have flashed at times, but they don’t project as No. 2 receivers. Philadelphia has been rumored to be looking at receivers in the 2022 NFL draft, guys like Jameson Williams, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Treylon Burks all possess first-round talent. And the Eagles currently own three picks in the Top 21. But maybe the team would look to a veteran option on the trade market to pair opposite Smith.
Enter Calvin Ridley. The Atlanta Falcons’ top target hasn’t seen a snap since October 24 and left the team on Halloween to deal with mental health issues. There’s been no sign that he wants to return while rumors churn that he’s on the trading block. NFL Network’s Steve Wyche thinks Ridley’s future with the Falcons is in jeopardy and both sides are looking for a “fresh start.”
Ridley was also dealing with a knee (or hamstring) injury suffered at Falcons’ training camp. The team placed him on the non-football injury list on November 5. Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith talked about it during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show on November 13.
“We don’t force anything, we wouldn’t force anybody back from any kind of injury,” Smith told Eisen, via Falcons Wire. “So, we take it day by day, or week by week, and that’s how we view it. There’s no timetable on it, nor would I push anybody on that.”
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Perfect Landing Spot for Ridley
Philadelphia would be the ideal landing spot for Ridley. For starters, the Eagles are turning into a booster club for Alabama football. Ridley was actually a teammate to Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith in 2017 before Atlanta took him with the 26th overall pick. He’s been an elite pass-catcher in the NFL over the past four seasons: 248 receptions for 3,342 yards and 28 touchdowns. A reunion with Hurts would be deadly for opposing secondaries.
Then there is the issue of Ridley’s public battle with mental health issues. There would be no better locker room to walk into than the Eagles where Lane Johnson is the outspoken face of anxiety and depression. He missed three games in 2021 due to the illness before opening up in an effort to help others.
“The real message is don’t bottle it up. It’s easy to do that,” Johnson told reporters. “It’s easy to avoid situations that you don’t want to go through, something that’s going to be difficult. Don’t let your pride get in the way.”
Eagles Coach Values Personal Connections
Ridley would have the perfect coach to help him cope in Nick Sirianni, too. Reagor shared how Sirianni was the first person to talk to him and lift him up after he dropped a potential game-winning touchdown in New York. The fans berated him. And sports talk radio raged.
Not Sirianni. He felt the need to personally connect with Reagor. The second-year receiver thinks Sirianni might be a better human being than a football coach.
“That means an awful lot to me that he said that and talked about that first because, again, connecting is so important to me,” Sirianni said of Reagor’s comments. “I’ve talked to you guys about this, like why is connecting important to me? Because it’s a relationship business.
“For my entire life growing up I would see grown men come to my parents’ house just to see my dad because they’re back in town and they wanted to come see my dad because they had a connection with him. I always thought that was so cool and one of the main reasons I got into coaching.”