Saturday, April 9, 2016

Jets acquire Broncos tackle Ryan Clady to replace Ferguson

When reports surfaced on Friday that D'Brickashaw Ferguson had decided to retire from pro football everyone was stunned, except for the Jets.

Perhaps Gang Green really did anticipate his retirement coming, because 36 hours after the announcement the Jets formally acquired Ryan Clady and a seventh-round pick from the Denver Broncos in exchange for a fifth-round pick.  

All of sudden the Jets have replaced Ferguson, who started 167 consecutive games over 10 years for New York, with a tackle who when healthy is a physical presence on the offensive line, who stands at 6'6" and 315 pounds. 

The big question regarding Clady is health. While his predecessor was always the top bill of health, Clady was the opposite. He has missed 30 games over the past three seasons.  He played only two games in 2013 when he suffered a Lisfranc injury (foot injury) that led him to miss the rest of the '13 season. Clady missed all of the Broncos 2015 Super Bowl season. 

Because of the health concerns and high price tag ($9.5 million over two years) the Broncos and GM John Elway had been looking to trade the offensive tackle after they signed former Seahawk, Russell Okung when free agency began. 

In order to make the trade happen, the Jets had to work out new deal with Clady, and restructured the deal to a one-year deal worth $6 million, with $3 million guaranteed. Clady also gets a one-year option for $10 million if things pan out this year. 

This is a huge gamble for the Jets. If Clady remains healthy this year and reclaims the status that made him one of the games top left tackles, this could be an absolute steal for the Jets, especially since it cost them only a fifth-round pick. Obviously, if Clady is not healthy, the Jets issues at left tackle will only persist. 

It should be interesting to see how this trade affects the Fitzpatrick negotiations, if at all. The Jets have taken a hard stance on Fitzpatrick's contract, refusing to pay him more than $7 million a year. Fitzpatrick has been looking for something in the $10-$11 million a year range.

In addition, the Clady move could still have an impact on the Jets draft plans. New York had been expected to target either defense line or even quarterback before the Ferguson retirement. Now they might have to settle for a tackle. My guess is they will still target the offensive line with their first pick in Round One. 

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