Does a Calvin Ridley trade make sense for the LA Chargers?
By Jason Reed
Right now, the LA Chargers' main focus is to beat the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18 to earn a playoff spot in the AFC. While the team is looking to prolong offseason talk for as long as possible, there is an interesting new wrinkle in the NFL that the Bolts could be interested in during the offseason.
That wrinkle is Calvin Ridley. Ridley stepped away from football this season to handle personal matters and on Thursday, it was reported that he and the Atlanta Falcons are potentially looking for a "fresh start"... which implies a trade.
The Chargers are going to have some kind of activity at the wide receiver position in the offseason. Mike Williams is a free agent and there is a multitude of directions that the team could go. They could franchise tag Williams, re-sign him, draft his replacement high in the 2022 NFL Draft (less than ideal), or bring in a replacement via free agency or trade.
The name that most Charger fans have been clamoring for is Davante Adams. However, that might not ever come to be if Aaron Rodgers stays in Green Bay or if the Packers franchise tags Adams. If Adams is not available, targeting Ridley could be a backup plan. But that raises the question.
Does it make sense for the LA Chargers to trade for Calvin Ridley?
There is one super important thing to keep in mind when it comes to a potential Ridley trade: he only has one more year left under contract. There is a good side of that reality and a bad side. The good side is that his cap hit for next season is only $11.1 million. In theory, the Chargers would be adding a WR2 that is as good as Williams with a higher ceiling for a cheaper cost, even if Williams is brought back on the franchise tag. When you look at it that way, it makes sense.
However, the negative side of that reality is the fact that he is only under contract for one more year. The Chargers would have to work out a new contract the following offseason with Ridley, which is only pushing off the problem a year. The team could agree to an extension before the season begins, but that is less than ideal.
I know that Ridley was not in a great situation this season but the fact is that he was not very good. He certainly was not playing like the WR1 that everyone expected him to be. He only has one 1,000-yard season under his belt and there just is not enough track record to extend him before even seeing him play on the Chargers. At that rate, I would much rather see the team sign someone like Adams or even Brandin Cooks.
That means that the Chargers would be trading for a one-year rental and hoping that it turns into something long-term. Quite frankly, I do not think that is a great path to take either. If you are going to push off the problem for one more year then the team might as well just franchise tag Williams for the 2022 season.
Sure, it would be more expensive than Ridley but the team also would not have to trade a draft pick. While I am all for trading late-round picks, especially with the team having so many compensatory picks, this would not be a late-round pick trade.
Even though he only has one more year under contract, because Ridley is so young he is going to warrant at least a second-round pick, if not more. There absolutely will be a team willing to pay that to bring in a young, perceived, WR1 that they can extend. The Chargers should not be that team.
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This is a team that has so many depth issues and needs to fill some defensive holes. The Bolts should not trade a day one or two pick unless they are getting something seriously impactful. Quite frankly, Calvin Ridley is not that guy. It is too much of a risk when there is a much safer alternative.