NEW YORK — The National Football League suspended Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Calvin Ridley for at least the 2022 season for betting on NFL games last season.
According to the NFL, Ridley's gambling "took place during a five-day period in late November 2021 while Ridley was not with the team and was away from the club's facility on the non-football illness list."
The NFL continued saying an investigation determined "no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way. Nor was there evidence suggesting any awareness by coaches, staff, teammates, or other players of his betting activity."
In a letter to Ridley, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL."
The earliest Ridley could apply for reinstatement is February 15, 2023, the NFL said Monday. But, even then, he's not guaranteed reinstatement and could miss multiple seasons due to his actions.
"We were first made aware of the league's investigation on February 9. We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league's findings and actions," the Atlanta Falcons said in a statement. "We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made."
For Ridley, the suspension will carry a hefty price tag. Despite being one of the top receivers in the league, he was still playing under his rookie contract. He was set to make $11.1 million this year, the most of his NFL career. However, with the suspension, that salary is likely lost or delayed until next season when Ridley will be 29.
Ridley's suspension also throws the NFC South into further chaos. With the retirement of Tom Brady, the division was wide open. However, with the retirement of Saints coach Sean Payton, Ridley's suspension, and the turbulence in Carolina, Tampa Bay may be poised to make serious noise in the division if the team can sign free agents and get good quarterback play this year.
For Atlanta, Ridley's suspension may be the catalyst to start a long-needed rebuild of the roster. However, the Falcons have plenty of holes and could still get a good amount of trade capital for quarterback Matt Ryan and others on the roster right now.