Now that the reports are out on the New York Jets asking D’Brickashaw Ferguson to take a pay cut, what does it mean for the franchise?
This request shouldn’t surprise anyone and may be viewed as an inevitable plea. Ferguson, 32, carries a cap hit of $14.1 million in 2016, the third-highest cap charge on the team. The Jets have the least cap space in the league, according to Spotrac.com, and need any money they can scrounge together to round out the roster and re-sign Fitzpatrick.
Ferguson has been a true professional during his 10-year career. He will likely get inducted into the Jets Ring of Honor someday and has represented the franchise impeccably on and off the field. But the three-time pro bowler has fallen off as of late and is no longer a premier offensive tackle. Ferguson’s 32.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus ranked 60th among all offensive tackles.
Of course, Ferguson does not have to take a pay cut and who could blame him?
For a franchise riddled with mediocrity, Ferguson has been nothing but consistently reliable for most of his career and can still hold his own as a starting left tackle. However, Ferguson could risk getting cut entirely if he does not have his contract restructured. The Jets would save $9.873 million by cutting Ferguson and would eat only $4.233 million in dead cap space by cutting him.
Even though re-signing Fitzpatrick might be the top priority for GM Mike Maccagnan, restructuring Ferguson’s contract wouldn’t completely solve that problem.
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Say the Jets cut Ferguson’s 2016 salary in half: That would give them about $7.7 million in cap room. The Jets have reportedly offered Fitzpatrick a lowball contract in the realm of $7 million per year, so cutting Ferguson’s salary in half wouldn’t give them much more wiggle room.
Fitzpatrick’s camp seems set on getting a contract similar to the two-year, $36 million deal Sam Bradford inked with the Philadelphia Eagles and they aren’t wrong to do so. Given this inflated quarterback market, it’s hard to chastise anyone (especially a journeyman such as Fitzpatrick) to seek market value after coming off of a career year.
The Jets may assume Fitzpatrick comes crawling back to their number, but they also have to be careful of losing Fitzpatrick entirely. This is why Ferguson’s contract is vastly important this offseason. The Jets must find the cash to bring Fitzpatrick back or else risk find a way to win with a quarterback group featuring Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and a rookie or mediocre veteran.
Every move the Jets have made during this pivotal offseason has tied into another. Whether Ferguson takes a pay cut or not, the dominos will fall correspondingly once again.