Rarely does an elite player in his prime become available in the NFL’s trade market, but in the case of the Atlanta Falcons and Calvin Ridley, a potential mutual desire for a fresh start has the 27-year-old WR1 suddenly up for grabs. The Chicago Bears will have a glaring need at wide receiver once the 2022 offseason kicks off, so it makes sense to consider whether Ridley would be the perfect target for a team committed to building around Justin Fields. Ridley is just one year removed from a career-best 90 catches, 1,374 yards, and nine touchdowns. He was expected to build on his 2020 breakout this season but stepped away from the game in November to focus on his mental health. His 2021 season ended after just five games in which he totaled 31 receptions, 281 yards, and two touchdowns. https://twitter.com/CalvinRidley1/status/1454893669467701248?s=20 Before any trade can seriously be considered, the Bears would first have to make sure Ridley is ready to return to the game. Mental health is a very sensitive and serious topic and should, of course, remain Ridley’s No. 1 priority. But if we’re pondering a potential Bears-Ridley deal, it’s under the assumption the wideout is ready to rock and roll on the field. https://twitter.com/thecheckdown/status/1293280591706755072?s=20 Chicago has the cap space (they’re projected to be nearly $45 million under the cap when the offseason gets started) to absorb Ridley’s current salary as well as any extension that’d likely be an understood part of the deal. The Falcons’ asking price for Ridley will probably be a high day-two pick and the Bears have that, too. Seems like a perfect match, doesn’t it? If acquired, Ridley would immediately step into the WR1 role in Chicago and offer a more explosive skill set than what Allen Robinson’s provided to the Bears over the last couple of years. Ridley averaged more than 15 yards per catch in 2020; Robinson hasn’t averaged more than 12.3 yards per catch in any of the last three years. At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, he’s two inches taller and nearly 20 pounds heavier than Darnell Mooney—an ideal complement. But just because Ridley’s fit with the Bears reads like a good fantasy football transaction doesn’t mean it’s the best move the team can make. The Bears need to answer one primary question before striking a deal for Ridley: Will they benefit more from signing a free agent like Mike Williams, D.J. Chark, or one of the injured stars like Chris Godwin or Michael Gallup, and keep their second-round pick to add a top-50 talent at another area of need? In fact, Chicago could sign a high-priced free-agent wide receiver and draft one in the second round to really bolster the position group. I’m no mathematician, but that’d be adding two upgrades (including a significant one in free agency) instead of one. Let’s not forget another key point: the Bears may be in the midst of a change at general manager, and if that shake-up actually happens, there’s little-to-no chance a new GM will make a blockbuster trade just weeks into his new gig. It’s nice to imagine a Bears offense led by Justin Fields, David Montgomery, Calvin Ridley, and Darnell Mooney. But reality will likely paint a very different picture, one that’s highlighted by a quality free-agent wide receiver and an exciting second-round prospect by the time April rolls around.
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