FRIDAY, 11:27am: The Broncos didn’t wait long to determine that Clady’s season is officially over, placing him on injured reserve today, per Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link). The veteran tackle is on the books for a $9.5MM base salary in 2016, which doesn’t include any guarantees, so it’s possible that he’ll have to take a pay cut to remain with Denver next year, depending on how his recovery goes.
THURSDAY, 2:25pm: Speaking to reporters today, head coach Gary Kubiak said that the team won’t officially rule Clady out for the 2015 season quite yet, and that the short-term IR list could be an option. With Clady out, the initial plan is to leave Clark at right tackle, with Sambrailo and Schofield in the mix on the left side (Twitter links via Lindsay Jones of USA Today).
1:25pm: The man responsible for protecting Peyton Manning‘s blind side may miss the entire 2015 season, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Schefter reports that Ryan Clady, Denver’s starting left tackle, tore his ACL during practice on Wednesday and will likely be sidelined for the year.
Clady, 28, has manned the left tackle spot for the Broncos since being drafted in the first round by the team in 2008. The veteran tackle has earned four Pro Bowl berths and two All-Pro nods, starting every game for Denver in every season except 2013, when he went down in September with a season-ending Lisfranc injury — Clady’s ACL tear figures to be his second season-ending injury in the last three years.
According to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required), Clady didn’t rank among the league’s top tackles in 2014, with his -2.8 grade putting him in about the middle of the pack. Still, he logged 1,084 offensive snaps and allowed Peyton Manning to be sacked just twice, making him a steady and reliable presence on the Broncos’ offensive line.
With Clady out of action, the Broncos will be forced to find a replacement at yet another spot on their line, after making several changes to the group already this offseason. Orlando Franklin signed with the division-rival Chargers as a free agent, and Manuel Ramirez was sent to Detroit in a draft-day trade. Free agent signee Shelley Smith and trade acquisition Gino Gradkowski are expected to get the first opportunities to step into the starting lineup, though now another new starter will have to step up as well.
Right tackle Chris Clark shifted over to the left side when Clady went down two years ago, and could be asked to do so again in 2015. Michael Schofield, a 2014 third-round pick, and Ty Sambrailo, 2015’s second-rounder, are candidates to compete for playing time at either left or right tackle.