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Ridley reaction: "We just made that room stronger…"

Ridley Recation

JACKSONVILLE – Doug Pederson remains focused on the now – and the 2022 season.

But with the team this week making a move that's about next season and beyond, the Jaguars' head coach on Wednesday discussed that future.

Calvin Ridley, a 1,300-yard wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons in 2020, on Tuesday was acquired by the Jaguars – reportedly for two conditional draft selections. Ridley is currently suspended by the NFL and can apply for reinstatement on or after February 15, 2023.

"We feel like we're getting a really good football player and adding to an already good room," Pederson said Wednesday as the Jaguars (2-6) prepared to play the Las Vegas Raiders (2-5) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

"He adds to the guys we have. We just made that room stronger. We're excited to have the player when we do get him and [excited to] welcome him in here when we do get him."

Ridley, the No. 26 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Falcons, caught 248 passes for 3,342 yards and 28 touchdowns from 2018-2021. He caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in his last full season, 2020.

Ridley played five games in 2021 before stepping away from football for mental-health reasons, and is currently suspended from the NFL for betting on games.

"You're always trying to better the football team," General Manager Trent Baalke said. "We felt this was an opportunity to do it and the timing was right. It doesn't take anything away from this season or what we're trying to accomplish this year. Our focus is right here, right now.

"We did our due diligence. We're confident in the work we did. We feel very good about the decision to trade for Calvin."

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence expressed excitement over the move.

"Being a quarterback, you can't not be excited about that," Lawrence said. "I've heard good things from people who know him. I've heard he loves the game and obviously when you watch the tape it speaks for itself. That will be an exciting next season to look forward to.

"Right now, we're focused on finishing this season strong. We have nine games left and he can't come help us now. We've got the guys we've got, and we have a lot of faith in them. We're trying to put together as many wins in a row as we can here at the end of the season and make the playoffs.

Wide receiver Christian Kirk, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in March, has known Ridley since the two were in high school attending football camps and called Ridley a "great player and a great dude."

"I'm excited to have him here and add a dynamic piece to our offense," Kirk said. "He'll be a great piece for us next year."

Kirk said he spoke with Ridley Tuesday.

"He's definitely excited," Kirk said of Ridley, who attended Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Monarch High School before playing at the University of Alabama. "He's from Florida and he's excited to be back home and to be a part of what we're building. We're chasing greatness and he's all in on it."

Pederson called Ridley "very talented" and a "great route runner," and said he and Baalke discussed the move extensively.

"We're going to always look to add talent to this roster – any way possible, any shape or form," Pederson said. "I feel like we've done that. Obviously, we won't know what we have until the league clears him. We understand that."

Pederson added, "We're aware of all the circumstances surrounding Calvin and obviously very sensitive to the mental health of all the players and making sure everybody's really taken well-care of. That's something we'll continue to do with our current roster, obviously – and obviously when he gets in here.

"We've got a great team of people in place who are ready to embrace that."

With the NFL's 2022 trade deadline passing Tuesday at 4 p.m., Pederson was asked if he had wanted to trade for a player or players who could play immediately.

"You're always going to look and entertain every phone call that comes your way," Pederson said. "But we're very pleased with the guys we have now. We just have to continue to build upon that and keep working and get it turned.

"We've got nine games left. We're still focused on this week and getting prepared for this week."

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