As a shock to fans of the New York Jets, D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s decision to retire will ultimately benefit both the team and player. Make no mistake about it, his retirement helps open up doors to address other needs.
It literally came out of nowhere, Ferguson announced his retirement and it sent a shockwave across One Jets Drive. It’s a bittersweet moment as he leaves on top of his game and in perfect health but also leaves some pretty big shoes to fill on the Jets’ offensive line.
Before discussing the ramifications of this news, let’s take a moment to applaud the long-time Jet for his illustrious career. In a sports era that is characterized by persistent injuries and rehab stints, Ferguson was the ultimate iron man. Over a decade long career, he started every single game. What’s more, he only sat out for only one play throughout his entire career. That’s unheard of in any sport, let alone in the brutal NFL.
Unfortunately, even athletes that manage to avoid injuries cannot escape Father Time. Ferguson’s play has been on the decline, a grim reality that was particularly noticeable during this past season. Head coach Todd Bowles said as much in a recent interview with Rich Cimini of ESPN, acknowledging that Ferguson “did some good things and he did some not-so-good things.”
All that being said, Ferguson is still relatively young (32), talented and apparently injury-proof. And for the first time in ten years, the Jets have to find a new player to protect their quarterback’s blind side. At first glance, losing Ferguson seems like a substantial blow to the Jets.
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The Jets are a better team with Ferguson on their roster, but they didn’t really have the money to keep him for another year anyway.
The Jets were facing a dire salary cap situation, and essentially had no money left to add new players prior to Ferguson’s retirement.
With Ferguson’s departure, the team gains about $9M in new salary cap space. The team may need every penny, as they have to find a replacement at left tackle, resolve their quarterback situation and sign their upcoming draft picks.
Jets fans should be encouraged by the fact that general manager Mike Maccagnan has a knack for bargain shopping. As is noted by ESPN’s Rich Cimini again, the Jets replaced three players they lost (Damon Harrison, Chris Ivory and Demario Davis) with six players (Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, Bruce Carter, Erin Henderson, Steve McLendon and Jarvis Jenkins) while still managing to save money in the process. The Jets may have some star power, but they gained the depth that should allow them to remain a contender in 2016.
The Jets, under Mccagnan’s shrewd leadership, will use the gold mine they inherited from Ferguson’s retirement to address multiple remaining needs. Ferguson, meanwhile, gets to leave football on his own terms with his health intact.
A true win-win situation is almost impossible to find in the hyper-competitive world of professional sports, but today both Ferguson and the Jets can walk away with their collective heads held high.