JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Zac from Austin, Tejas
Every offseason I have asked you what sports articles stand out to you. Trevor's was good, but Calvin Ridley's will stay with me forever. He hit on a lot of points outside of sports that I wish more people were talking about. We can talk about other articles later. For now, what did you think of the life of this young man growing up? And does it hype up even your little neutrally bound heart?
Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who spent Wednesday in Jacksonville visiting the organization for the first time since being acquired in a trade last November from the Atlanta Falcons, wrote "A Letter to the Game" in the Players Tribune. It was published Wednesday and can be read here. And while quarterback Trevor Lawrence's recent letter to Jaguars fans on the same website was memorable for its connection/message to the city of Jacksonville, Ridley's was more personal – and therefore notable for different reasons. Ridley in the "letter" detailed the issues and events that led to him stepping away from the Falcons early in the 2021 season – and also detailed the events that led to him later being suspended by the NFL for violating the league's gambling policy. He, too, detailed his difficult upbringing in South Florida. It's indeed a memorable article and a must-read for fans wanting to understand Ridley's mindset at the time of these events and now. You can't read the article without being moved. I can't say it "hyped me up." I'm not quite sure that that means. But Ridley seems to have taken enormous efforts to get to a "good place." It seems he has arrived at that place and believes he is ready to perform at a high level. He appears to be ready to embrace a new beginning in Jacksonville, and Jaguars fans seem ready to embrace him. Good stuff.
Marc from Oceanway
Wow! I just read Calvin Ridley's letter in The Players Tribune. I can't believe he kept all that angst inside. We knew nothing about what he had gone through. I'm guessing he isn't the complainer type. From what I remember, he left the Atlanta Falcons midseason for "personal reasons." When we first traded for Ridley, my biggest concern was not the gambling, it was the mystery of what made him leave his teammates midseason. Well, that question has been answered and makes this signing even MORE amazing.
Eric from Jacksonville Beach
Really excited about seeing Ridley joining all the other weapons in the offense. Am I wrong, though, to think we should temper our expectations for a person who hasn't played football for well over a year? I think he'll probably start off the season slow, getting back into football rhythm and shape, and end the year looking great. Just anticipating the angst early in the year if people don't see him explode off the bat and keep seeing projections that make it seem like people expect him to be back to his old form Week 1. Where do you stand on that?
Ridley's an elite talent, and elite talents can do special things. It's only natural he would be better at season's end than at the beginning. I understand your point and it's valid. I just don't have a feel for how he will start. There's not a tremendous amount of precedent here.
JR from The Squatchlands
A few people have written in expressing concern over Calvin Ridley's past issues with gambling. I'd like to express my concern for the person he is and not just a cog in the wheel that is the NFL. Calvin took a step away from the game before the gambling due to mental health reasons. As someone who has worked with many people struggling with just about every mental health issue in the book, I can assure those skeptics out there that mental health is real and should be taken seriously. Here's to hoping Calvin is doing better, not just for the sake of the team, but for the human being that he is.
Brian from Fleming Island
Just a comment in regards to Calvin Ridley's letter to the Players Tribune. I really like how this young man opened up and gave a heartfelt response explaining everything. To me, I feel the punishment was more than deserved and the NFL was making an example, but Calvin never complained. He owned his error. I'm really proud of the Jaguars to give this young man a second chance and I hope he turns into the next Jimmy Smith. I'm rooting for him.
You're not alone.
Lenny from London, UK
Why are teams reluctant to give franchise quarterbacks fully guaranteed contracts? There are very few instances of franchise quarterbacks getting cut. The only reason I can think of is if a quarterback gets injured to the point of having to retire, but there are also very, very few instances of that happening as well. It seems like an easy way to get a quarterback to sign a contract.
It's easy in the sense that the quarterback signs the contract. It's not easy in the sense that guaranteed contracts can cause major salary-cap problems should the player not perform at a high level throughout the contract.
Jason from North Pole, AK
Do you expect the Jaguars to take a left guard in the first three rounds? Just wondering how they are feeling about Ben Bartch.
The Jaguars like left guard Ben Bartch. I wouldn't be surprised if they select a player who can play guard or tackle in the first three rounds of the draft because you need to replenish those positions regularly through the draft.
Zach from Wisconsin
"What's a Pete Prisco?" I'll tell you what a Pete Prisco is. A Pete Prisco is a traitor who lacks the common sense to vote for Doug for Coach of the Year.
Media members aren't "traitors." They don't have team allegiances. As for Prisco, he historically treats the Jaguars as fairly as any national media type. If he didn't vote for Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson for Coach of the Year for the 2022 season, it was because he felt someone else deserved it more. I would disagree with that, but he certainly is entitled to that opinion.
James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville
O-Man I find the biggest problem with having 12-to-13 draft picks like we've been having is if half of them are good there's no way you can sign all of them, but I guess that's a good problem to have.
Having six players from a draft class worth re-signing to a second contract is a fantastic problem. It's also a relatively rare problem. Hitting on half your draft selections to that degree is really difficult, and realistically won't happen enough for it to be a long-term concern.
Al from Orange Park, FL
I've always thought that a large part of the 2017 Jags success was being extremely lucky on the injury front. The 2022 Jags seem to be a bit the same. Do you see any validity to that school of thought?
The NFL is a league of playmakers, quarterbacks and attrition. Health doesn't guarantee success. But the lack of it, particularly if injuries waylay an entire position group, can pretty much guarantee failure.
C Mo from The Cats, CA
John. I wanted to share an unexpected experience on the Upper East Side of NYC this past weekend. While wearing my Jaguars shirt, peaking through an open jacket (it was cold), a guy (a genuine New Yorker even!) gave me a thumbs up and a "Go Jags!" as he passed by. My wife was even taken aback that that happened in NYC. The fanbase is growing, Mr. O. The fanbase is growing.
Let's go Jaguars.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL
When is it legal for a new veteran to a new team to get playbook – for instance, Ridley or New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr? I understand teams may and do alter playbook yearly, but with rules regarding coach/player contact wasn't sure when a playbook could be delivered. Is the same date true for players under contract with teams.
Teams can send players playbooks at any times. And there is some value to a player having a playbook. But the real work toward learning an offense begins April 17. That's when the offseason program begins, which is when coaches and players can meet – and therefore when they can begin talking scheme, strategy, approach, specifics, etc.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK
Oh Mighty 'O'/King of all Funk, as the 15 March deadline approaches I have yet to see anything about our Senior Writer being offered a megadeal contract extension. Are you and your agent and playing hard ball or will Jaguars Owner Shad Khan simply meet with you next week and shout out numbers until you joyously say "OK!"
My security code worked the last I tried it. It was a good day.