Hassan Ridgeway didn’t have much of a training camp. Never flashed. Never shined. Didn’t make any significant plays in the preseason games.
So when the Eagles released him on Aug. 31 as part of their final roster cutdown to 53, it wasn’t a surprise.
He hadn’t earned a spot.
Still, it was significant that the Eagles cut ties with Ridgeway, who had been a solid depth player the last couple years. He started five games at defensive tackle in 2019 and played 248 defensive snaps. He didn’t start last year but did play 138 snaps on defense.
He did suffer season-ending injuries each year in Week 7 – an ankle in 2019, a biceps last year.
And with new depth at defensive tackle – draft picks Milton Williams and Marlon Tuipulotu plus T.Y. McGill re-signing – there just didn’t seem to be a roster spot for Ridgeway.
As a vested veteran, Ridgeway is not subject to the waiver claim process, so as of 4 p.m. Aug. 31, he was an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any NFL team.
Nick Sirianni declined to share his message to Ridgeway when he got cut, but in the past he has said that his general massage to players who get released is to keep working, don’t get discouraged and be ready if we need you again.
“Any time you cut somebody, that’s always hard,” said Sirianni, who was with Ridgeway with the Colts in 2018. And, you know, we knew we were going to need him, and we knew we wanted him back on the team.”
Ridgeway was on the street for two days, and on Sept. 2, now with roster space after placing three players on Injured Reserve and McGill on the COVID list, the Eagles re-signed him.
And Sirianni was right.
The Eagles did need him.
With Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave both playing limited snaps Sunday in Atlanta – 41 of 72 for Cox, 40 for Hargrave – Ridgway and Williams played a lot. Ridgeway got 26 snaps and Williams 31.
And 12 days after getting released, Ridgeway played terrific football.
He had one of three Eagles sacks, he had three hurries, he had a tackle for loss, he had two tackles and he although he didn’t get credit for a sack for it, his pressure in the second quarter forced Matt Ryan to spike the football and draw a 14-yard intentional grounding penalty that effectively killed a drive.
How clutch was Ridgeway?
Coming into the game, he had 7 ½ sacks and 15 hurries in 48 career games. He had a sack and three hurries in 26 snaps.
“He was awesome,” Sirianni said. “He was ready to go, and he’s just got that ability to move on and play on. He really helped us out … in Atlanta.”
A day after the game, the Eagles activated McGill off the COVID Reserve list and released him.
Considering how significantly McGill outplayed Ridgeway in training camp, it’s likely the Eagles would have released Ridgeway and activated McGill if Ridgeway hadn’t performed the way he did in Atlanta.
Ridgeway is earning 6th-year minimum wage of $990,000, which means for every week he’s on the roster he pockets $55,000.
Turns out being ready no matter what the circumstances can be awfully lucrative.