Phil Perry

What's next for Patriots after disappointing miss on Calvin Ridley?

The Patriots lost the Calvin Ridley sweepstakes to the Titans.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Patriots had a need. A glaring one. They had the money available to get the clear-cut top option available in free agency to fill that need. They were interested in him. And he's ending up elsewhere. 

If you're the Patriots or one of their fans, that has to qualify as disappointing.

Former Jaguars wideout Calvin Ridley, according to multiple reports, has signed a massive deal with the Titans. Per NFL Media, Ridley is getting a four-year deal worth $92 million and $50 million fully guaranteed.

The disappointing part, if you're the Patriots? Per Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, New England had a deal on the table for Ridley worth "around $22 million" per year, and his new contract will have an average annual value of $23 million per year. 

Eliot Wolf, Jerod Mayo and the Patriots front office were in the ballpark. But they're watching one of the free agents they targeted -- thanks to his versatility, route-running ability and explosiveness -- head elsewhere. 

The deal for Ridley is surprisingly large -- Pro Football Focus pegged his value at around $16 million per year -- but it's not a record-setting contract.

🔊 Next Pats: Patriots missed on Calvin what now? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The average annual value of the deal, according to Over The Cap, will rank ninth in the NFL among receivers -- just ahead of tagged wideouts Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman ($21.8 million) and just behind Washington's Terry McLaurin ($23.2 million). For a wideout like Ridley, 29 -- who could be argued as a top-25 player at his position (he was 27th in yards last year) -- it's not unusual for a free-agent deal to rank well ahead of where he may sit at his position. 

That's what happened with Ridley. And the Patriots were close to making the winning bid. Just not close enough. 

What might make Ridley's choice to go with Tennessee over New England a little harder for the team's brass to swallow is that the Titans are actually in a similar position to the Patriots in terms of their franchise's overall trajectory. Tennessee was 6-11 last season and currently has questions at quarterback with Will Levis as the for-now option. 

Perhaps Ridley simply wanted to be further south than Foxboro, Mass. for this next phase of his career. Perhaps there are pieces to his new deal -- cash flows, bonuses, etc. -- that differ wildly from what he was offered by the Patriots.

But it's not like he went to a contender with a star passer who'll elevate him for the stretch run of his career.

As things stand in the immediate aftermath of the reporting of the deal, it looks like the Patriots just missed out by a few million. They missed out on an opportunity to strengthen their receiver room after years of having a substandard unit. Missed out on an opportunity to make life easier on their young quarterback, if they end up taking one at No. 3 overall. Missed out on an opportunity to give their fans something to get excited about, which after a few tough-to-watch seasons, would have some big-picture value and might take some pressure off the new head coach and de facto general manager.

What's next? 

Maybe they sign Mike Williams to play on the boundary and win 50-50 balls in a way that the recently departed DeVante Parker couldn't. Maybe they add Marquise "Hollywood" Brown as a speed option with a bit of a track record to help keep safeties honest. Maybe they strike gold at pick No. 34 overall in the second round and land their No. 1 receiver of the future. 

There are options. It's not yet a completely hopeless situation in the receiver room at One Patriot Place. 

But after striking out with the obvious top free-agent choice, it remains an eminently disappointing one.

Contact Us