The New York Jets pulled off the switcheroo of the century last offseason. They turned a disaster into perhaps a long term solution. Can they do it again?It has seemed like a foregone conclusion that Ryan Clady was going to be released by the New York Jets. After all, he is owed a $10 million base salary for 2017, none of which is guaranteed.
This $10 million base is just part of it. He’s also owed a $1 million bonus in mid-February. But under the new terms of a contract alteration, Clady is no longer owed a roster bonus, which means that $1 million, instead, is being converted into incentives.
This course of action allows the Jets more time to evaluate if they’re willing to take a chance on Clady. If we can flashback to last season around this time, the Jets were in some restricted times from a cap perspective.
These restricted times resulted in the Jets (reportedly) approaching their franchise left tackle, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, about a pay cut. But when they read the tea leaves, they realized that Ferguson was leaning towards retirement.
They also realized that due to poor drafting and poor planning, they had no viable replacement. So, the Jets front office got to work and by the time Ferguson officially announced his retirement, they had a plan.
While one tackle was walking out the door, the Jets had already completed a trade to bring a former Pro Bowl tackle through the same door.
But not only did they get a replacement who had arguably a higher ceiling, they also crafted the perfect new contract: $5.5 million for a franchise left tackle is chump change. That number would, could, possibly double if the Jets wanted him back in that second year.
They put a nice slab of New York Strip in front of him while Clady’s on the treadmill. His track record says durability concerns. Those concerns were realized when Clady saw his season cut short by a torn rotator cuff.
The Jets have provided themselves some more time with this restructure. But perhaps not more time to evaluate Clady, but instead to find a proper replacement.
They pulled off quite the Houdini trick last year at the left tackle position. Can they get Clady’s replacement ready before he leaves?
Well, they’ll have a bevy of options in free agency. It’s like shopping at the grocery store. You’re hungry and a lot of different items will satisfy your hunger. So is the case in the free agency depth class of offensive tackles.
Let’s evaluate some of these. An absolute stopgap would be Whitworth. He’s probably the most reliable out of the bunch and could probably come on the cheap.
Jake Long has been kicked around the league since he was drafted as the league’s No. 1 overall choice. Durability concerns would follow, although if money is an object, Long would be another relatively inexpensive option.
My favorite choice out of the bunch would be Reiff from Detroit. The former first-round pick is coming off of his rookie contract and has some scheme versatility.
Kalil has been a bit of a bust since coming out of USC. The Minnesota Vikings offensive line was awful this year and when Kalil was healthy it didn’t make much of a difference.
Finally, the plan Z option should be Ijalana. He has a low ceiling, but a higher floor. He’s been in the system for a while and he can swing inside if injuries occur on the line.
With the Jets having so many issues, it’s hard to think that they’ll take a $10 million-plus risk on an injury prone tackle in Clady. If he came on the cheap, perhaps a deal can be formulated, outside of that, I don’t see it.
This is critical for the Jets who haven’t invested a first-round pick on the line since 2006 when they drafted Brick and Nick Mangold. That streak will likely continue with no viable options with the sixth overall pick.