Will Calvin Ridley Boom or Bust in Return From Gambling Suspension?

  • Calvin Ridley was suspended for the 2022 season for betting on NFL games
  • Ridley made the second-team All-Pro in his last full season in 2020
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars are an exciting young team with lots of upside
  • Other players that served long suspensions have struggled in their returns
Calvin Ridley
All eyes will be on Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Calvin Ridley when he makes his return from his gambling suspension next season. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Ridley is almost back

Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Calvin Ridley is just over a month away from making his return to an NFL field after serving a season-long gambling suspension.

in 2021/2022, Ridley was fifth in receiving yards (1,374)

When last seen in a full season in 2021/2022, Ridley was fifth in receiving yards (1,374), tenth in touchdowns (nine), and was named a second-team All-Pro. But as he prepares to lace up his cleats again, onlookers are questioning how he will look after a lengthy suspension and what his impact on the Jaguars will be.

Will Calvin Ridley boom or bust in his first season since his gambling suspension? VegasSlotsOnline News has explored the possibilities.

Favorable conditions

Ridley was suspended for “at least” the 2022 season last March after investigators found that he bet on NFL games during a five-day stretch while on hiatus from his former employer, the Atlanta Falcons. His bets reportedly included parlays that included the Falcons to win. 

While confirming on Twitter that he bet $1,500, Ridley insisted that he did not have a gambling problem:

After being reinstated by the NFL for the 2023 season, Ridley now enters a situation in Jacksonville that is about as favorable as it could be. The Jaguars were formed in 1995 and have the second-fewest wins in league history, putting them (and him) firmly outside of the national spotlight. 

gets to play for acclaimed head coach Doug Pederson

However, the Jags also have a budding superstar quarterback in Trevor Lawrence that engineered the third-largest playoff comeback ever last postseason. He also gets to play for acclaimed head coach Doug Pederson, who has won a Super Bowl and is renowned for building relationships with his players.

Yards ahead

Ridley also has a golden opportunity to perform individually. The Jags’ incumbent number-one receiver, Christian Kirk, racked up 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns in 2022. Ridley is a far superior player than him and the other starters.

It’s also important to remember that he is not coming off of an injury and is just as physically capable as he was before. While he might be a little rusty having missed out on game action since 2021, he has had plenty of time to focus on his fitness and technique in that period.

Interestingly, Jacksonville is a -155 favorite to win the AFC South but is only +1500 to win the AFC as a whole, according to FanDuel sportsbook. That’s despite them winning seven of their final nine games in 2022 and exiting the playoffs while covering on the road against the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Challenges to overcome

Ridley may have a road to success, but he also has several hurdles to clear. First, he bears the weight of being the first big-name player in modern NFL history suspended for betting on games. Only Josh Shaw, who played four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and Chiefs, was suspended before him in the modern era, and Shaw never approached Ridley’s level of notoriety.

Ridley will be the first star to return to action after a gambling suspension

Shaw is now a free agent after his reinstatement in 2021, meaning Ridley will be the first star to return to action after a gambling suspension. As a result, he’ll likely be flooded with questions and taunted by hecklers during games. 

The Jags’ new receiver also has to prove that he can be a serviceable player after so much time off. He took a mental health hiatus in 2021, missed 12 of the Falcons’ 17 games, and was then suspended for 2022, meaning that he has not played a regulation game since October 24, 2021.

Learning from the past

Other NFL players that have returned to action after lots of time off have not found much success. 

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is the latest example of a formerly-excellent player to struggle after sitting out. He was a top-five QB in the league in 2020 but did not play in 2021 because of off-field and contract issues. He was then suspended for the first 11 games of 2022.

averaged just 183.6 passing yards and threw seven touchdowns

When he finally got back on the field, he averaged just 183.6 passing yards and threw seven touchdowns and five interceptions in six games. He also had a career-worst 38.3 QBR, which would have ranked sixth-worst if he played the required amount of games. 

No matter what happens, Ridley will provide the first answer to how NFL players can actually perform after returning from a gambling suspension.

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