One thing is for sure, the Jets offseason which has been pockmarked by the ongoing Ryan Fitzpatrick negotiation, has now taken a new twist with the Jets losing their blindside protector for the quarterback, which will almost undoubtably change the course of the Jets draft plans.
For Ferguson the announcement of his retirement comes as a big surprise, even if the Jets claim that it isn't, at least to them. While Ferguson's production had dropped off the past couple of years, there was no indication from him until the day it happened that he was going to retire. In fact, it is ironic in more ways then one that he made his firm decision only after the Jets spoke to him about a pay cut.
Reports have indicated that Ferguson had considered retirement for sometime, especially if he couldn't meet his own standards. Perhaps the contract was the final straw.
Last week, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan spoke to Ferguson about taking a pay cut that would free up cash for the Jets to sign Fitzpatrick. Ferguson had a $14 million cap hit in 2016 and the Jets, with only $1 million in cap room left, felt pushing Ferguson to accept less money was a home run for everyone. Well, as it turns out its really only a home run for Ferguson who leaves with a full bill of health and plenty of money saved after a long and productive playing career. The New York Post reported that Ferguson was approached at the Jets facility about the reduction in pay, which didn't surprise the left tackle. There were no formal negotiations either.
Those who want to run around and claim that Ferguson retired because the movie "Concussion" heavily influenced him are making a fairly weak case. Yes, Ferguson was troubled by the movie, he spoke out heavily against the NFL's lack of transparency. A lot of players who have been victims of concussions are ticked off at the League for its lack of transparency on the issue, and there are certainly enough active players, troubled by it as well. But, to say it was the deciding factor is a bit far fetched.
Ferguson's decision is simply about money, and whether he felt he should keep playing at a high level for less. Sorry, conspiracy theorists, Will Smith gets no credit here.
According to the New York Daily News, Ferguson was troubled by the sense that the organization was trying to replace him, something he saw firsthand when the Jets drafted bust Vlad Ducasse to push out veteran Allen Faneca. When Ferguson got word the Jets wanted HIM to take a pay cut, it was the tall tell sign that he needed to make a move.
Make no mistake Ferguson was a great player for the Jets. He missed only one snap his entire career, playing in 167 straight games for the Jets since they drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He will be missed, and he made a decision that was sound and well thought out. Ferguson has a bright future in the business world, whether it is sports related or not. You will be hearing a lot about his success off the field for years to come.
As far as the business of football is concerned, the ball is really in Maccagnan's court now, and he can't screw this up. He asked Ferguson to take less so he could keep Fitzpatrick, and now has lost his left tackle. While the loss frees up $9 million in salary cap space, the pressure is on the Jets to get the Fitzpatrick deal done.
Fitzpatrick has done a terrible job handling this himself. He and his agent overvalued the quarterback's worth to the point that nobody, not even the Denver Broncos who went out a traded for Mark Sanchez, want a piece of him. Fitzpatrick is negotiating against himself and the Jets know it.
The Jets are right to hold firm in this negotiation, but as they do, RGIII is now in Cleveland and Colin Kaepernick looks destined for the aforementioned Broncos. The 49ers seem poised to draft one of this year's top quarterbacks in a draft that is rail thin on good quarterbacks. So the pressure is on the Jets to get something done soon. If Fitzpatrick were to somehow, by a miracle, find a landing spot elsewhere the Jets would be in huge trouble. The idea of Geno Smith or inexperienced Bryce Petty starting under center is starring them in the face.
Moreover the Jets were even looking at Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch last week. Rumors were swirling that Lynch could be the Jets guy at the 20th pick, but with the latest developments on the offensive line, the Jets will probably scrap any plans to draft a quarterback early in the draft, if at all.
And that leads to this question: Who is going to play left tackle? A lot of people have speculated the Jets would go out and trade for Ryan Clady, who is due $19.5 million over two years from the Broncos. The Broncos are still in negotiation with San Francisco for Kaepernick, and would probably ask for a kings ransom from the Jets in the form of draft picks and compensation. While a trade is always possible, this is one that seems unlikely -- at least right now.
The other option of course is to draft a tackle. The draft is full of top lineman, many of them are expected to go early in the draft. Unless someone falls in the draft, the Jets might have to trade up to get a top guy. Then again, the stock on some of the second tier lineman might start to go up.
So while the Jets may have gotten what they wanted with money off the books, it may come at the expense of Fitzpatrick, who right now, has nobody to protect his blindside.