A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Fault line: Years of offensive line neglect finally is catching up to the Jets, whose once-formidable line has descended into mediocrity.
They reacted quickly to D'Brickashaw Ferguson's sudden retirement by trading for Ryan Clady, but he's a one-year Band-Aid. Let's be real: The erosion has been ongoing for years. The unit got old, and the organization -- over three administrations -- has done a poor job of replenishing the talent via the draft. Since picking Ferguson and Nick Mangold in the first round of the 2006 draft, the Jets haven't taken an offensive lineman in Round 1. The Jets, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only teams that have gone from 2007 to 2015 without investing a first-round pick in the offensive line. At least the Raiders and Bucs can say they made multiple picks in the second round; the Jets made just one.
Vlad Ducasse, a bust.
The Jets have tried to maintain the unit by drafting and developing mid- to late-round picks, but it takes a keen eye for talent to go that route. The Jets have come up short. Of the 10 linemen drafted since 2007, only Matt Slauson (sixth round, 2009) has become a consistent starter in the league -- and now he's playing for the Chicago Bears. Brian Winters (third round, 2013) has started 28 games and still has a chance, but he doesn't have a stranglehold on his position.
Mangold is the only one remaining from the great '09 offensive line. Alan Faneca was released in '10, then Damien Woody and Brandon Moore retired. Now Ferguson has joined them. Nothing lasts forever in the NFL, but the ability to maintain excellence is what separates the winning franchises from the also-rans. Looking at the current line, the only starter that factors into the long-term plan is left guard James Carpenter, a nice signing last offseason.
After him, we're talking serious questions. You get the feeling it's being held together by spit and glue. General manager Mike Maccagnan & Co. will get their second crack at it in a couple of weeks. Let's see what they do.
2. Draft impact: The addition of Clady won't preclude the Jets from picking a tackle high in the draft, possibly the first round. They should consider it, based on all the reasons I just listed. The ideal candidate is a right tackle who has the athleticism to make the transition to the left side, replacing Clady in 2017. Anybody like that in the draft? Well, yeah, there's Ohio State's Taylor Decker and Texas A&M's Germain Ifedi. Even though he played mostly right tackle in college, Ifedi has the kind of long arms (36 inches) that scouts covet in left tackles.
3. Saving money: The Jets will save $3.1 million in cap space with the Clady-for-Ferguson swap. Here's how: Ferguson was due to count $14.1 million on the roster. Without him, there's a $5 million "dead" charge. Clady's cap hit on his restructured deal will be $6 million, meaning there's a total of $11 million devoted to left tackles.
So the Jets saved a chunk of money and got three years younger at the position. Now all they need is for Clady to ... you know, stay off injured reserve.
4. The Fab '5': A year ago, Maccagnan scored big by trading a fifth-round pick for Brandon Marshall, also receiving a seventh in return. He's hoping history repeats with Clady. So to recap: In the span of 13 months, Maccagnan has traded two fifth-rounders for Clady, Marshall and two seventh-round picks. That's filthy.
5. Waiting on Fitz: A lot of people are wondering if the sudden cap relief from Ferguson's retirement will lead to a resolution with the Ryan Fitzpatrick stalemate. Short answer: It's apples and oranges. The Jets' offer to Fitzpatrick isn't based on cap space; it's based on what they feel he's worth. Obviously, Fitzpatrick feels differently. From what I understand, the offer is better than the $7 million-to-$8 million that is being reported, which means the low-ball perception isn't quite accurate.
6. The Amazing Brick: By the nature of the position, the offensive line isn't a numbers-oriented unit. You can't punch up a website and search for "Run-blocking leaders." Ferguson is an exception to the rule because there are a couple of remarkable stats that define his career. Randy Lange of the team's official website culled this nugget: In his last 90 games, Ferguson was penalized only once for holding. It happened last season against J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.
Speaking of Watt, he chimed in via Twitter to comment on another crazy Brick-related stat.
Since the Jets drafted OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, they have run 10,708 regular season offensive snaps. Ferguson played on 10,707 of them.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 8, 2016
6. Home run for Mr. T: Mike Tannenbaum was a 37-year-old, first-time general manager in 2006. In the days leading up to the draft, fans and media people were screaming for him to trade up for Reggie Bush or draft his former USC teammate, quarterback Matt Leinart. Tannenbaum did neither. He remained in the No. 4 spot and selected Ferguson. Not a bad first pick.
7. Perfect 10: Ferguson played every game in 10 seasons, bringing his career total to 160 -- not quite good enough to crack the Jets' top-10 list in games played. The leaders: Pat Leahy (250), Randy Rasmussen (207), Kyle Clifton (204), Mo Lewis (200), Winston Hill (195), Dan Alexander (192), Larry Grantham (175), Joe Fields (173), Don Maynard (172) and Jim Sweeney (166). Ferguson is tied for 11th with Mickey Shuler.
In terms of consecutive games played, Ferguson is fourth, behind Clifton (204), Hill (195) and Leahy (180).
8. Mining for gems: The Jets have added eight new players, three of whom were non-tendered restricted free agents -- running back Khiry Robinson, cornerback Darryl Morris and wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Ross. They also re-signed tight end Zach Sudfeld, who fell into the same category. It's a smart, economical way to add depth players, especially with a tight cap situation. These are experienced players who, for various reasons, didn't receive a tender offer from their previous team. Hey, you never know what you might find.
9. Out with a bang: After four concussions in his career, Buffalo Bills linebacker A.J. Tarpley announced his retirement last week. His career wasn't long, but it ended on a memorable note (much to the Jets' chagrin). Tarpley intercepted Fitzpatrick on the final play of the Jets' season, killing their playoff hopes.
10. Talking football: If you're a Jets or Giants fan, or just a fan of the draft, you should stop by Foley's on April 20. Gary Myers (New York Daily News), Peter King (TheMMQB.com) and I will conduct a Q&A/discussion on the upcoming draft. There is no admission charge, and there could be a surprise guest. Foley's is located on West 33rd Street in Manhattan.