Calvin Ridley’s first step toward potentially returning to an NFL field arrived on Wednesday.
Ridley, who was suspended indefinitely in 2022 for betting on NFL games during the 2021 season, is applying for reinstatement today, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
Wednesday marked the first day in which Ridley could apply for reinstatement, according to Rapoport, and starting that process could prompt his return for the 2023 season.
Ridley changed teams while suspended in 2022 when the Falcons sent him to the Jaguars in exchange for a pair of conditional picks that could be worth a maximum of a fifth-round selection in 2023 and a second-round selection in 2024. Conditions of the draft pick compensation are related to when Ridley is reinstated and his status with the team in future seasons, making his initial petition important for more than just Ridley’s chance of returning to action.
Ridley has not played in an NFL game in over a calendar year. The former 26th-overall pick in 2018 last participated in a contest on Oct. 24, 2021, a 30-28 Falcons win over the Miami Dolphins in which Ridley caught four passes for 26 yards and a touchdown. He left the team for personal reasons after that game and spent the remainder of the 2021 season on the non-football injury list before he was suspended in March of 2022.
The 28-year-old receiver has provided plenty of proof of his potential in his four NFL seasons, catching 60-plus passes for 800-plus receiving yards and at least seven receiving touchdowns in each of his first three professional campaigns. Ridley was a key part of Atlanta’s future prior to his suspension, and the Falcons responded accordingly by selecting USC receiver Drake London in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft as a replacement for Ridley before sending him to Jacksonville.
The Jaguars enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in their first season under Doug Pederson, reaching the Divisional Round of the postseason before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. If Ridley can return to play in 2023, the Jaguars will have another playmaker available for ascending quarterback Trevor Lawrence.