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    NFL Benches Falcons’ Calvin Ridley for 2022: How gambling suspension impacts Atlanta

    The NFL has suspended Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley for at least the entire 2022 season for gambling on games.

    Atlanta Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley was suspended for at least the 2022 NFL campaign after it was discovered that he bet on league games during a five-day span in November 2021 while away from the team. Ridley only played in five games during the 2021 season as he left the team during the first half of the campaign to attend to personal issues.

    Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley benched indefinitely for gambling

    The NFL released a statement on Monday claiming that Ridley was discovered to have gambled throughout a five-day stretch while on sabbatical from the Falcons in November. According to the league, a private investigator found no evidence that inside knowledge was used during the betting process, but NFL players are prohibited from gambling while under contract.

    The Falcons claimed they were unaware of the league’s investigation into Ridley until they were notified on Feb. 9. The team released a statement saying, “we are going to move forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made.”

    Commissioner Roger Goodell said Ridley’s actions “put the integrity of the game at risk,” and thus, Ridley was suspended for at least the totality of the 2022 NFL season. While he has three days to appeal the suspension, if he loses the appeal, he won’t be able to seek reinstatement until Feb. 15, 2023.

    Ridley tweeted shortly after the suspension was announced that he bet $1,500 and he doesn’t “have a gambling problem.” According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Ridley’s wagers involved Falcons games.

    How suspension impacts Ridley

    Ridley last played in an Oct. 24 game against the Miami Dolphins. Following that week, Ridley issued a statement saying he was leaving the team to prioritize his mental health.

    With the suspension, he will miss at least 29 consecutive regular-season games. His contract will also toll to 2023. He’s on the final year of his rookie deal, an $11.1 million fifth-year option, which will move off the Falcons’ books for this season.

    Given the suspension, the Falcons can go after the guaranteed salary of the fifth-year option and hope to wipe it completely off their books forever.

    How suspension impacts the Falcons

    Well, the Falcons just saved $11.1 million on their salary cap heading into free agency without moving a muscle. That said, they won’t be celebrating the savings, as Ridley was already on the trade block. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Ridley was receiving plenty of interest during early trade discussions. Now, instead of the Falcons saving cash and adding draft capital, they are simply left with cap savings.

    The Falcons’ wideout room is a complete disaster, as Frank Darby is the only wide receiver under contract with Ridley headed to the suspension list. Russell Gage, last year’s top wideout, is set to become an unrestricted free agent, while gadget weapon Olamide Zaccheaus is set to join the restricted free agent pool. Cordarrelle Patterson, who shifted to running back last season, is also a free agent.

    The Falcons will need to rebuild basically the entire room at this point and could have used the compensation from a potential Ridley trade to plug a hole or two.

    But the Falcons are at least under the salary cap now with Ridley off the books, so they could theoretically try to re-sign Gage before the market opens later this month.

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