D'Brickashaw Ferguson has played 10 seasons for the New York Jets and hasn't missed a single play due to injury. He's a true ironman, a future member of the team's Ring of Honor. But we're reminded every day in free agency that this is a cut-throat business, ruled by dollars and performance. Ferguson, for the first time in his career, is getting a taste of the reality.
The Jets are scheduled to meet with free-agent left tackle Kelvin Beachum, a source confirmed Friday. Beachum is a possible replacement for Ferguson, whose enormous cap charge ($14.1 million) and declining play have put him in jeopardy.
No, this doesn't mean Ferguson will be released. It could be a leverage play by the Jets, hoping to pressure him into taking a pay cut. He's due to make a non-guaranteed $8.625 million base salary in 2016, so there's certainly plenty to cut. They still see Ferguson, 32, as a viable left tackle, but as you might have heard, the Jets are experiencing a cap crunch. They need relief, and Brick is candidate No. 1. If he refuses to take the cut, he could be released.
Beachum, a seventh-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012, is an above-average tackle. He's only 26 years old and he'd come cheaper than Ferguson. The issue with him is his left knee; he played only six games last season because he tore an ACL.
The Steelers hope to re-sign Beachum, who also has attracted interest from the Baltimore Ravens, among other teams. He played right tackle early in his career, but he prefers the left side. The Jets could see Beachum as a potential replacement for right tackle Breno Giacomini, who had a mediocre year and could be a casualty, but they're not about to tip their hand.
For now, Ferguson is on notice.
In other free-agent developments, the Jets are visiting Friday with wide receiver Rod Streater (Oakland Raiders), defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins (Chicago Bears) and, oh yeah, quarterback Robert Griffin III, formerly of the Washington Redskins.