Seven hours after a touching cyber-farewell to D'Brickashaw Ferguson, complete with online testimonials, video highlights of his career and a poignant letter from the man himself, the New York Jets secured his replacement -- Ryan Clady, a former Pro Bowl player with the Denver Broncos.
Thanks for the memories, Brick. Welcome to Jersey, Ryan.
There's no time for sentimentality in the NFL.
First impression on the trade: The Jets have replaced one of the most durable players in recent history with a guy who has missed 30 of the past 48 games because of severe foot and knee injuries. Clady missed last season after blowing out an ACL in an offseason workout, forcing him to watch the Broncos' Super Bowl run from his couch. That is a concern, but when you consider the other factors -- the odd timing of Ferguson's retirement and the paucity of left tackles on the market -- the deal makes sense.
The Jets will surrender a fifth-round pick in the upcoming draft, but they'll receive a pick along with Clady -- a seventh-rounder, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported. Sound familiar? A year ago, they made the exact same trade to acquire wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and that worked out brilliantly.
General manager Mike Maccagnan was praised for the Marshall trade because it was deemed low-risk, with a potentially high reward. It's the same with Clady, except the variable is his health. The Jets gave him a physical on Friday, so we have to assume his surgically repaired knee (and his surgically repaired foot from 2013) checked out fine.
The Marshall trade also made sense because the Jets inherited a team-friendly contract, allowing them to cut him after a year if it didn't work out. The Jets and Clady have agreed to a restructured contract. It's a one-year deal worth $6 million in base salary, with $3 million of that guaranteed, and it could increase to $7.5 million based on playing time and/or honors.
The reworked deal between the Jets and Clady also has an additional option year for a minimum of $10 million that can escalate to $13 million based on playing time and includes a $2.5 million February bonus. If the Jets decline to pick up that option after this season, Clady will become a free agent.
When healthy, Clady is a better player than Ferguson. He's an ultra-athletic pass-protector on the blind side, a four-time Pro Bowl selection. His last Pro Bowl came in 2014, the year after he suffered a Lisfranc foot injury in a Week 3 game. He rebounded nicely from that injury, and now he'll try to do the same after knee surgery.
One concern is whether he's a scheme fit. Clady comes from a team that used zone-blocking principles in the running game; the Jets are a man-blocking offense.
This wasn't a spur-of-the-moment deal by the Jets. As soon as they found out last week that Ferguson was retiring after 10 seasons, they targeted Clady. By Thursday, the day before the Ferguson story broke, the Jets were hopeful the Clady trade would happen. They re-signed backup Ben Ijalana as insurance, but Clady was the plan from the outset.
At this point in the offseason, Clady was their best option. This doesn't preclude them from picking a tackle at No. 20 in the draft, but it probably would be a right tackle with the ability to swing to the left side in 2017.
Maccagnan has been on a left-tackle mission since the start of the offseason, fueling speculation about Ferguson's future. He made a hard run at Kelechi Osemele, who wound up signing with the Oakland Raiders. The Jets visited with Kelvin Beachum, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. They waited too long to approach Ferguson about a pay cut, a delay that may have cost them a shot at Russell Okung, who is replacing Clady in Denver.
It was a misstep by Maccagnan, but he wiggled his way out of a tight situation by trading for Clady -- a good move if he can stay in one piece.
If he can, this will be the 2016 version of the Marshall deal. If not, the Jets will be experiencing Brick withdrawal.