New York Jets: Ferguson retirement is not the end of the world
The New York Jets and fans were undoubtedly shocked to hear of the sudden retirement of offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Make no mistake about it, it helps out the Jets in many ways actually.
Ferguson did nothing but good in his 10 seasons with the Jets. He only missed one snap which was not due to injury and he was an amazing leader as a cornerstone piece of the offensive line. He will without a doubt be inducted into the Jets’ Ring of Honor in the near future and his presence will simply be missed.
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Despite the immediate pressing need this creates at left tackle, Gang Green has no reason to panic about the situation. ‘Brick’ had a $14.1 million cap hit for 2016 that played a huge factor in New York’s lack of space this offseason. $5 million of that $14.1 was guaranteed, so the Jets gain $9.1 million through his retirement.
General manager Mike Maccagnan can either use that money on raising the $7 million Ryan Fitzpatrick offer or perhaps filling the left tackle void through free agency. The Jets have a need at outside linebacker as well which they can address. According to Over The Cap, the team had a mere $20,547 in cap space before this move. Regardless of what they choose to do with it, this is money the Jets certainly needed.
Ferguson’s retirement will also help New York’s financial situation next offseason. A restructure could have potentially put the team in “cap hell” by making his 2017 cap hit bigger than what his 2016 cap hit was. Now, they can take Muhammad Wilkerson off the trade block and gamble on striking a deal with him in 2017. Even if he were to walk, Sheldon Richardson would end up being the guy who gets the big payday.
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Once Ferguson officially retires, the Jets will have about $40 million in cap room for 2017, per OTC.
With very few needs and pending free agents (besides Wilkerson and Richardson), Gang Green can continue building on what they already have in place.
Money can be spent on keeping the team together opposed to reaching into the free agency pool to acquire talent. As long as the Jets draft well, they will be in fine shape further down the road even with numerous old players on the roster.
New York can now use this year’s draft as an opportunity to revamp both left and right tackle. Ferguson and Breno Giacomini mightily underachieved in the 2015 campaign ranking towards the bottom of the starting tackles on Pro Football Focus.
With that being said, going tackle in the first two rounds can be the next big thing for the Jets’ offense. Production on the line would increase and the team would add youth that the unit can benefit from. Cutting Giacomini would additionally save $3.9 million and give Maccagnan more money to pursue Fitzpatrick or address the outside linebacker position.
Potential options for the Jets in the draft are Taylor Decker, Jack Conklin and Jason Spriggs. All three played in the Big 10 conference which produces their fair share of talented offensive linemen. Ronnie Stanley’s stock is also beginning to fall, so New York may find themselves in another Leonard Williams scenario where a great prospect falls right in their lap. In the past two seasons at Notre Dame, Stanley has allowed a mere three sacks, per PFF College. The Jets would luck out incredibly if he were to fall to them.
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Overall, the team has plenty of directions in which they can turn following Ferguson’s departure. With three main needs, it will be interesting to see where Maccagnan spends the $9.1 million before the draft at the end of the month. Brick’s absence hurts for the time being, but by no means should New York fall into panic mode now that he is gone.