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The good news for the Atlanta Falcons, who have not had a winning season since 2017, is that they just opened up $11.1 million in salary-cap room for the 2022 season.

The bad news for the Dirty Birds is the reason for that windfall is the team will be without receiver Calvin Ridley, a former first-round draft pick who became the first NFL player suspended for gambling since 2019, Monday, and will be forced to sit out at least the 2022 season.

The NFL said in a statement that over a five-day stretch in November 2021, when he was on the non-football injury list to address his mental health and away from the team, Ridley placed bets on games.

While the NFL did not indicate what contests he placed bets on, multiple reports said the bets involved multiple teams — including the Falcons, whom he picked to beat the Jaguars in Week 12. The Falcons won that game 21-14.

In a letter NFL commissioner, Rodger Goodell, sent notifying Ridley of his suspension, he praised the player for admitting to his actions when the league brought him in for questioning but chided him for putting the reputation of the game at risk.

"There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL's success — and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league — than upholding the integrity of the game. This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league," Goodell wrote. "Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL."
The investigation found no evidence inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way. The league also noted that there was no evidence the Falcons staff nor players were aware of the transactions.

The Falcons, who now have only one receiver — rookie Frank Darby — from the 53-man roster last season under contract, issued the following statement on the action taken against the receiver.

"We were first made aware of the league's investigation on Feb. 9. We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league's findings and actions. We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made. With the decision that was made by the NFL, any further questions on the investigation should be directed to the league office."
Ridley said he bet $1,500 total denied having a gambling problem in a series of tweets following the announcement. He also seemed surprised by the severity of his punishment.

"I know I was wrong But I'm getting 1 year lol." he wrote.

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