“We just made this piece stronger…”

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

But with the team this week taking a step into next season and beyond, the Jaguars head coach discussed that future on Wednesday.

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

“We feel like we’ve got a really good football player and added to an already good room,” Pederson said Wednesday as the Jaguars (2-6) prepared to face the Las Vegas Raiders (2 -5) at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday. at 1 pm

“He adds to the guys we have. We’ve just made this play stronger. We’re excited to have the player when we get him and [excited to] welcome him here when we have 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 always try to improve the football team,” said general manager Trent Baalke. “We felt it was an opportunity to do it and the time had come. It doesn’t take away from this season or what we’re trying to achieve this year. Our focus is here, right now.

“We’ve done our due diligence. We’re confident in the job we’ve done. We’re very pleased with the decision to trade for Calvin.”

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence expressed his excitement over the decision.

“As a quarterback, you can’t help but 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. It’s going to be a next one. exciting season to look forward to.

“Right now we are focused on finishing this season strong. We have nine games left and he can’t come and help us now. We have the guys we have and we have a lot of confidence in them. We let’s try to put together as many consecutive wins as possible 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 they were both in high school at football camps and called Ridley “a great player and big guy”.

“I’m thrilled to have him here and to add a dynamic element to our offense,” Kirk said. “He will be a big piece for us next year.”

Kirk said he spoke with Ridley on Tuesday.

“He’s definitely excited,” Kirk said of Ridley, who attended Monarch High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before playing at the University of Alabama. “He’s from Florida and he’s thrilled to be back home and part of what we’re building. We’re looking for greatness and he’s into it.”

Pederson called Ridley “very talented” and a “great road runner”, and said he and Baalke discussed the move at length.

“We’re always going to be looking to add talent to this roster – in any way we can, in any form,” Pederson said. “I feel like we did. Obviously, we won’t know what we have until the league clears it. 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 everyone is really well taken care of. That’s something we will continue to do. do with our current roster, obviously – and obviously when it gets here.

“We have a great team of people in place who are ready to accept that.”

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

“You’re always going to be watching and entertaining every phone call that comes your way,” Pederson said. “But we’re very happy with the guys we have now. We just have to keep building on that and keep working and keeping things rolling.

“We have nine games left. We are still focused on this week and preparing for this week.”

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