Ridley left the team to address his mental “well-being.”
Smith found out Sunday morning before the Carolina game that the team would be without Ridley.
The team’s top receiver was declared inactive and missed the game for a personal reason. The Falcons lost 19-13 to the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Late in the game Ridley tweeted a statement that read in part, “These past few weeks have been very challenging, and as much as I’d like to be on the field competing with my teammates, I need to step away from football at this time and focus on my mental wellbeing. This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future.”
Ridley missed the game against the Jets in London on Oct. 10 because of a personal matter.
Ridley had 31 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Ridley was placed on the non-football injury list by the team Nov. 5. He has not played since as the Falcons are set to finish the regular season at home against the Saints on Sunday.
Ridley was on the 53-man roster for seven7 games so he gets an accrued season (year of service for free agency). Even without the accrued season, his 2021 contract year would have continued to run. Earning an accrued season and contract tolling are different concepts.
In May, Ridley, the team’s top draft pick in 2018, had his fifth-year, $11.116 million option picked up by the team.
The team did not pick up tight end Hayden Hurst’s fifth-year option of $5.4 million.
Ridley signed a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth season after being drafted 26th overall in 2018. In three seasons with the Falcons, Ridley has 217 receptions for 3,061 yards and 26 touchdowns - including 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020.
In 2020, the Falcons declined to pick up the $10.3 million fifth-year option for defensive end Takk McKinley. He was released in the middle of the season after requesting a trade on social media.
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Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo