D’Brickashaw Ferguson‘s retirement gives the New York Jets $9 million in extra cap space. Is a Fitzpatrick signing is in the near future?
Ferguson, the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft and a three-time pro bowler, had no known injuries and reportedly made this decision simply because he thought the time was right.
Though the Jets are losing a fan favorite and an iron man at the left tackle position, the timing could not be better. As a result of Ferguson’s retirement, the Jets will gain over $9 million in cap space, which they can now use to sign free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick once and for all.
Prior to D’Brick’s retirement announcement, New York had less than $1 million in cap space for the upcoming season and the best offer they were willing to give Fitzpatrick was in the neighborhood of three years/$21 million. Though the increased cap space doesn’t change Fitzpatrick’s value – Mike Maccagnan still values him as a short-term starter/veteran back-up worth around $7 million per year – it does give Maccagnan and the Jets front office a little wiggle room to bring him back.
Prior, Maccagnan and company couldn’t afford to offer Fitzpatrick much more than $7 million per year. But now, with an extra $9 million available to spend for the upcoming season, Maccagnan can afford to overpay Fitz a little bit.
He can afford to offer a front-loaded contract packed with incentives and guarantees in the neighborhood of $8-10 million per year, and I think ultimately that’s what gets done in the coming weeks.
This organization knows Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the answer to all of their problems. They’re going to need a long-term quarterback eventually, but Fitz buys them time and he gives them a chance to win while they figure the rest out.
D’Brick just made bringing this guy back possible, now it’s up to Maccagnan to get it done.
D’Brick’s retirement also has serious implications on the Jets draft strategy. New York was targeting offensive tackles before the 32-year-old blindside protector made his announcement, now it’s just that much more likely that they take one in the first two rounds.
However, don’t rule out New York making a trade here. Don’t forget – the right side of the offensive line needs help too. Breno Giacomini was downright awful at right tackle last season, while Brian Winters was up and down at the guard position.
There are several veteran tackles on the trading block currently, namely Denver’s Ryan Clady, who is coming off of a torn ACL. If the Jets were to make a trade however, I don’t think it would be for a veteran like Clady.
Why replace one veteran with another? Especially when that veteran is coming off of a torn ACL.
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The most likely trade scenario for the New York Jets remains one that would involve Muhammad Wilkerson in exchange for multiple draft picks this year, and next year, which Maccagnan would use to build a youthful offensive line and fill some of the team’s other holes at positions like quarterback and linebacker.
New York has several holes to fill on both sides of the ball and only six draft picks to do so with. Trading Wilkerson for an additional second and fourth-round pick would go a long way because it would allow Maccagnan to address the offensive line early in the draft, and positions like quarterback and linebacker later on. Of course, this hypothetical trade would have to include future draft picks or a starting-caliber player as well because Wilkerson is worth more than just a second and a fourth rounder.
There are several starter-caliber tackles that New York may have a shot at when they pick at number 20 in round one, including Ohio State’s Taylor Decker, Indiana’s Jason Spriggs and Texas A&M’s Germain Ifedi, but after round one the talent drops off.
If Maccagnan elects to go linebacker with the 20th pick, New York will miss out on the top o-line prospects. But if Maccagnan can make a trade before or during the draft to add some mid-round picks, while also holding onto the 20th pick, he may be able to fill all of these positions with the youth that they’ve been screaming for.