In their end-of-season press conference, Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot were asked a range of questions from reporters, including topics such as the draft, in-house free agents, free agency as a whole, and more. Smith and Fontenot gave even-keeled responses to every question without revealing much of anything, including on Calvin Ridley.
The Falcons were without Ridley for much of the season. It was announced hours before the first Carolina Panthers game that he wouldn’t be available. Shortly after, it was revealed that he would be taking a leave of absence to focus on his mental well-being, explaining his decision in a statement posted to social media.
In the end-of-season presser, a member of the Falcons media asked Fontenot about Ridley’s current status and his place with the team going forward. Specifically, the reporter asked when Fontenot would begin thinking about life without Ridley. The Falcons general manager elegantly evaded answering the question directly, which the two men did the entire presser.
The Falcons will have an offseason filled with difficult decisions, which might or might not include Ridley. The general manager and head coach duo spoke extremely vaguely on the entire topic; the two gave absolutely no speculation on the matter. Fontenot minced words over what the future could hold for Ridley, answering in the same capacity that Smith has all year long — no speculated.
It is looking more and more likely that Ridley’s situation bleeds deeper into the offseason and the start of the 2022 season without much clarity. However, a silver lining in this story is the respect and support Smith and Fontenot have given Ridley; they genuinely care for their players.