D'Brickashaw Ferguson

AFC East Notes: Brady, Dolphins, Ajayi, Jets

Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi admits that he has been excited about the coming season ever since Lamar Miller left the team in free agency. Jay Ajayi (vertical)

I’ve been excited since I found out that Lamar was going to be moving on and that the position would be available,” Ajayi said, via the team’s website. “I’ve just been pushing myself through this offseason to prepare myself to have a great sophomore season. I was able to get a lot of opportunities last year when I finally started playing, and I felt comfortable. Now, I’m ready to elevate my game to a new level this season.”

After the Dolphins watched Miller sign a four-year deal with the Texans, Miami pivoted towards restricted free agent C.J. Anderson only to watch the Broncos match a four-year, $18MM offer sheet. Later on in March, the Fins missed out on Chris Johnson when he re-signed with the Cardinals on a hometown discount.

Recently, head coach Adam Gase admitted that Ajayi is the leading candidate to take over as Miami’s top tailback. With third-round pick Kenyan Drake standing as the team’s only meaningful addition at running back, the team will be banking on Ajayi for some major production.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Tom Brady‘s new lawyer Ted Olson told ABC News today that the facts in his client’s case are “so drastic, and so apparent … the court should rehear it,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The NFLPA will file a petition to rehear the Brady case today “en banc,” meaning that there will be a rehearing before a whole panel of judges (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com)
  • In an interview with SiriusXM (Twitter link), former Jets offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson made it sound as though he is comfortable with retirement. “Retirement is different but welcomed. Signs that times were changing. Didn’t want football to define my life,” Ferguson said.
  • Earlier today, Ryan Fitzpatrick reaffirmed his desire to return to the Jets. The veteran quarterback also dismissed the notion that he might retire if he does not find a suitable deal.
  • On Monday, the Browns released former Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline.

AFC Notes: Kaepernick, Chargers, Ferguson, Fins

The Broncos‘ precise pursuit of Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have an expiration date, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports, with the employment of Mark Sanchez going on a month and some other trade targets — like Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown — populating No. 2 spots on various depth charts.

Both Hoyer and McCown figure to be much easier to land than Kaepernick.

Sanchez has already assimilated quickly with his new team in taking a cast of receivers to Mission Viejo, Calif., for informal workouts, just as he did with the Jets and Eagles in recent years. Sanchez’s workouts were more star-studded than Peyton Manning‘s last Duke summit, with both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders showing up. Of course, Thomas was skipping official and Manning-suggested workouts last year due to being franchise-tagged. But Sanchez assembling both starters, along with a cadre of contributors, is somewhat impressive still.

At some point during the spring, though, the Broncos and 49ers would need to decide if this will work since Kaepernick will have to learn a new system regardless of where he plays this season. The 28-year-old passer didn’t have a good year in 2015, and the longer this drags out, the harder it will be to take command of a new offense, whether it’s in San Francisco or Denver.

  • The Chargers are meeting with another citizens initiative Monday to potentially help streamline their proposal for a downtown stadium, Lori Weisberg of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. This group’s measure would call for a 15.5% hotel tax hike — as opposed to the other initiative’s 16.5% bump — but also bars public funds from being used to finance this long-sought-after venture.
  • D’Brickashaw Ferguson composed a letter thanking Jets fans for their support during his 10-year career. The 32-year-old tackle does not sound like he’ll be backtracking on this decision.
  • The Dolphins are interested in Boise State offensive lineman Rees Odhiambo as a second- or third-day selection, James Walker of ESPN.com tweets. Odhiambo projects as a guard, a position at which the Dolphins are the weakest up front. Odhiambo has also been connected to the Colts, Buccaneers, Vikings and Seahawks in the form of pre-draft visits and workouts.

Reactions to D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s Retirement

Following D’Brickashaw Ferguson‘s surprising retirement announcement yesterday, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini writes that the former fourth-overall pick deserves to be applauded for his contribution to the Jets. The 32-year-old never missed a game during his ten-year career, and the writer believes he’ll eventually be honored in the organization’s Ring of Honor.

As we previously learned, the Jets asked Ferguson to take a sizable pay cut for the next season, but Cimini doesn’t believe Ferguson’s decision can entirely be attributed to money. The offensive tackle showed signs of decline last season, and instead of being “the guy who hangs on,” Ferguson simply decided to hang it up.

Let’s check out some more notes regarding Ferguson’s surprise retirement…

  • Despite the announcement, the retirement isn’t yet official. Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole tweets that the two sides were still working to finalize the paperwork.
  • There have been rumblings that the Jets were among four teams to inquire on the Titans‘ first-overall pick in this year’s draft, but Cimini believes it’d take too much for the team to move up from the 20th pick. The writer opines that a deal involving this year’s first, two future picks, and Muhammad Wilkerson could get it done, but he’s uncertain whether he’d want to “mortgage the future” for Laremy Tunsil.
  • Cimini focused on several offensive line prospects the Jets could pursue in this year’s draft, including Ohio State’s Taylor Decker, Texas A&M’s Germain Ifedi, and Indiana’s Jason Spriggs.
  • In regards to veterans, Cimini points to Broncos lineman Ryan Clady, who is reportedly on the trade block. Potential free agent targets include Will Beatty and Jake Long.

East Notes: Cowboys, Jets, Eagles, Bills

Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey has sat atop the Cowboys’ draft board since February, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reports. The corner-needy Cowboys have the fourth pick and seem like a good bet to choose Ramsey if he drops to their selection, but they have inquired on moving up to No. 1 via trade and could grab him there. Like Ramsey, North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz – the Cowboys’ top-rated signal-calling prospect, per Pauline – is also a possibility in the first round. The club has mixed feelings on a couple Ohio State standouts – running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s stock is high within the organization, while assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett is bearish on end Joey Bosa.

PFR’s Rob DiRe has one of these four players going to Dallas in his first mock draft of 2016. Click here to find out which of the quartet he currently thinks will end up in a Cowboys uniform.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • The retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson leaves the Jets in need at three of football’s most significant positions – left tackle, quarterback and pass rusher – Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes. Ferguson would’ve returned for an 11th season had his $10.375MM salary remained in place, but the Jets wanted to cut that figure in half, according to Mehta, and the 32-year-old wasn’t receptive to the idea. Ferguson also worried about the possibility of the Jets releasing him prior to the season because he didn’t have any interest in signing elsewhere and relocating his family, per Mehta.
  • The Eagles’ reported interest in a first-round quarterback is a smokescreen, opines CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who believes they could trade down from the eighth overall pick to acquire more selections and ultimately address needs elsewhere. Philadelphia leads the league in real dollars spent since the start of the 2015 league year ($200MM-plus), including deals given to quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. It’s fair to say the Eagles are in win-now mode, then, and La Canfora doesn’t expect them to eschew immediate help at problem positions in order to add a top-round QB to the mix.
  • With Tyrod Taylor entering a contract year, the Bills look poised to select a quarterback by the second day of the draft, as La Canfora details. The Bills are “enamored” of Ohio State’s Cardale Jones, says La Canfora, who reports that they also like Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan.
  • Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall won his civil trial relating to a 2012 altercation outside a Manhattan nightclub, and won’t be responsible for damages, per attorney Harvey Steinberg (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). The NFL is unlikely to pursue any discipline for Marshall, since he never faced criminal charges and the incident occurred years ago.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson To Retire

The Jets reportedly asked D’Brickashaw Ferguson recently to take a pay cut, and while Ferguson has made a decision that will allow Gang Green to create plenty of cap room, it likely wasn’t the decision Jets fans had anticipated.D'Brickashaw Ferguson

According to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter links), Ferguson has decided to retire after 10 NFL seasons. Cimini suggests that the veteran left tackle is “completely healthy,” and he doesn’t believe the Jets’ pay-cut request was an overriding factor in the 32-year-old’s decision. According to Cimini, Ferguson simply believed he could no longer play up to his usual standard.

The fourth overall pick in 2006, Ferguson didn’t miss a game in 10 years with the Jets, starting each of the 160 regular-season games he was eligible to play. During that stretch, he earned three Pro Bowl nods — those came in consecutive seasons, from 2009 to 2011.

Ferguson had been slated to count for $14.107MM against the Jets’ cap in 2016, which was somewhat problematic. New York is still trying to figure out what to do with Muhammad Wilkerson‘s $15.7MM cap hit, and the team also wants to bring back quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Ferguson’s decision to retire will create $9MM+ in cap savings, reducing his charge to just $5.014MM, which will give the Jets some additional flexibility.

Of course, while Ferguson’s retirement is a boon for the Jets’ cap, it creates some problems on the offensive line, where the team will have to find a solution at left tackle for 2016. There are some internal candidates and potential veteran solutions – Will Beatty is a free agent and Ryan Clady of the Broncos may be available – but the tackle position now figures to become a greater priority for New York in the draft. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle noted this morning (via Twitter) that the club has interest in Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi.

Although Ferguson’s decision to call it a career will affect the Jets’ plan for the rest of the offseason, it didn’t catch the club entirely off guard. According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter links), the veteran lineman had been mulling retirement for a while, and has kept the Jets in the loop throughout the process, so the team wasn’t blindsided by today’s news.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Ask D’Brickashaw Ferguson To Take Pay Cut

7:53pm: No negotiations have transpired between the Jets and Ferguson, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini reports (on Twitter). The request came in a more informal manner, per Cimini, with a team official mentioning a possible contract adjustment to Ferguson in passing.

7:01pm: The Jets still have their eye on re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick and are now taking precise action in their attempt to keep arguably the top quarterback available.

The team has asked D’Brickashaw Ferguson to take a pay cut to help facilitate the Jets’ pursuit of Fitzpatrick, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. Brian Costello of the New York Post also hears (Twitter link) a pay cut request has occurred.

Ferguson will be receptive to cutting his pay to stay in New York, sources told Mehta. The Jets also approached their 6-foot-5 tackle about this restructure in the middle of a workout. There are two seasons remaining on Ferguson’s eight-year, $73.6MM contract.

Gang Green’s desire to reduce its left tackle’s wages makes sense, with the team possessing the fewest salary cap space in the league at $713K, according to NFLPA records.

Although Ferguson hasn’t missed a game in his 10 seasons as Gang Green’s blind-side bastion, he’s 32 and has the highest 2016 left tackle cap number as of now at $14.07MM. Mehta reports the Jets approached the 11th-year tackle about the pay cut last week, and while Fitzpatrick resides as possibly the key reason for this request, it’s not the only one.

How much exactly Ferguson will be asked to trim from his 2016 salary is unclear, but Mehta estimates it will be at least $4-$5MM.

Fitzpatrick’s asking price has remained at $16MM annually, which has become the floor for entrenched starting quarterbacks. This new figure the 33-year-old Fitzpatrick has in mind would represent a staggering raise after he made just $3.25MM in his previous season with the Jets. We haven’t heard anything suggesting New York is willing to give Fitzpatrick this kind of money annually, with the Jets’ previous-best offer coming in at $7-$9MM AAV.

The No. 4 overall pick in 2006, Ferguson has started 167 regular-season and playoff games for the Jets and earned Pro Bowl nods from 2009-11. Both Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan gave procedural answers regarding Ferguson’s status on the 2016 Jets in recent weeks, providing some inevitability to these pay-reduction discussions. Pro Football Focus bestowed its No. 60 overall tackle ranking on Ferguson last season.

New York visited with Kelvin Beachum as a potential replacement for Ferguson, but after the Jaguars signed him, the Jets don’t have a viable alternative. Ryan Clady has ventured onto the trade block but has a cap number of $10.1MM and hasn’t proven to be nearly as durable as Ferguson, missing 30 regular-season games the past three years.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

AFC East Notes: Fitzpatrick, Wilkerson, Blount

The Jets made it clear earlier this week that their goal is to sign free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but general manager Mike Maccagnan is still realistic about his team’s chances to retain the 33-year-old.

“We like Ryan — we’d like to have Ryan back — but at the end of the day, it’s free agency,” the Jets executive said (via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini). “You go through it. At some point in time, hopefully, we can find a middle ground we’re both happy with.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • As Jets Pro Bowler Muhammad Wilkerson continues to recover from a broken leg, agent Chad Wiestling tweets that the defensive lineman will be playing for “someone” during the 2016 season.
  • Considering his age and price tag, it would make sense for the Jets to trade for Broncos offensive lineman Ryan Clady to replace incumbent D’Brickashaw Ferguson. However, if the team was truly looking for a Ferguson replacement, Cimini believes the team would have been better off pursuing Russell Okung, who signed with the Broncos earlier this week.
  • ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss doesn’t believe the Donald Brown signing would prevent LeGarrette Blount from returning to the Patriots. Even if the team does bring back the veteran, the writer still envisions the Patriots selecting a running back in the draft.
  • Before signing with the Patriots, linebacker Shea McClellin also met with the Seahawks, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Kelvin Beachum To Visit Jets, Seahawks, Jaguars

SATURDAY, 2:03pm: Beachum will also make a trip to Jacksonville on Monday to meet with the Jaguars, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets.

The Steelers are hosting Okung on a visit as well, with the possibility of Pittsburgh and Seattle exchanging tackles still existing.

FRIDAY, 12:22pm: In addition to visiting the Jets, Beachum has a visit with the Seahawks scheduled for Monday, tweets Rapoport. Seattle’s starting left tackle, Russell Okung, is currently set to take free agent visits with the Giants and Lions, so the Seahawks are considering alternatives.

FRIDAY, 11:23am: The Jets are bringing in veteran offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum for a visit, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). According to Rapoport, the Steelers are still hoping to re-sign Beachum, but now face some competition from the team they beat out for a playoff spot last season.Kelvin Beachum

Beachum, 26, was on his way to becoming one of the more reliable left tackles in the NFL before a torn ACL wiped out most of his 2015 season. The fact that he hasn’t fully recovered from that injury could put a damper on his market, but if teams are confident he’ll get back to 100% health, he’s an intriguing target. Few offensive linemen on the market have as much upside as Beachum, who didn’t miss a game in 2014 as the Steelers’ left tackle.

As Rapoport notes (via Twitter), if the Jets are serious about making a run at Beachum, it’s a situation worth monitoring for the Jets’ current left tackle, D’Brickashaw Ferguson. The 32-year-old has a cap hit exceeding $14MM for 2016, and the Jets could create $9MM+ in cap savings by releasing him.

Ferguson has still been pretty solid in recent years, so it would be a little surprising if New York moved on from him. But bringing in Beachum for a visit could help provide the Jets with some leverage if they want to encourage Ferguson to take a pay cut, as Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap observes (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Sanchez, Ferguson, Dolphins, Hoyer

Quarterback Mark Sanchez was traded to the Broncos yesterday, but if the veteran had had his way, he would have ended up in Denver years before.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), Sanchez wanted to play for the Broncos following his release from the Jets in 2014. The play-caller wanted to learn from future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, but the presence of Brock Osweiler essentially prevented Sanchez from joining the organization. Instead, he landed with the Eagles on a one-year, $2.25MM deal.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…

  • The Jets are set to meet with offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum, and considering D’Brickashaw Ferguson‘s huge cap hit, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini wonders whether the veteran lineman could be a cap casualty. Ferguson is set to count for $14.1MM against the cap, and his declining performance in 2015 could make him expendable.
  • With Olivier Vernon off to the Giants, the Dolphins continue to look for ways to improve their defensive line depth. Albert Breer of the NFL Network tweets that the team is looking to secure a meeting with veteran defensive end Chris Clemons.
  • After the Texans signed Osweiler to a pricey deal, it seemed inevitable that incumbent quarterback Brian Hoyer would be traded. However, general manager Rick Smith was adamant that the 30-year-old still has a role on the team. “I think it’s pretty apparent you need a couple quarterbacks in this league, okay,” Smith told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “And so Brian obviously played a lot of football for us, understands our system, our scheme and our team and is a valuable member of our team.”

Extra Points: Dreessen, Cutler, Ferguson

  • Speaking with Vic Carucci & Dan Leberfeld on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Broncos tight end Joel Dreessen weighed in on the Jimmy Graham ruling, saying the decision struck a nerve and that he agreed with Tony Gonzalez’s take on the situation: “It’s kind of frustrating that guys who get asked to do probably the second most after the quarterback is kinda down there on the pay scale.”
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune listed 12 NFL training camp storylines to watch, including Jay Cutler‘s new deal. “The Bears signed quarterback Jay Cutler to a $126 million contract extension that is essentially a $54 million deal for the next three seasons before it goes year-to-year,” says Biggs. “It’s a huge payday that general manager Phil Emery based on future performance, as Cutler’s resume includes only one postseason victory.”
  • Last year was an “uncharacteristically bad year” for Jets left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, says the New York Post’s Brian Costello, who believes 2013 will prove to be “an aberration and not a sign of decline.” However, Costello does caution: “Ferguson has the highest salary cap figure on the team at $11.7 million. After a few restructurings to help the team gain salary cap space in 2012 and ’13, the bill is now coming due for the Jets. Ferguson’s cap numbers are huge for the next four years. If Ferguson’s play slips, the Jets might have to consider releasing him before the 2016 season, when they could save $9 million in cap space by cutting him.”
  • Branden Albert of the Dolphins and Jairus Byrd of the Saints topped ESPN’s list of free agents who will transform teams. The last three seasons, Albert has allowed just 4.6 pressures per 100 pass blocks, good enough for third in the league over that span. As for Byrd, he allowed a paltry 0.23 yards per coverage snap last season, third-best in the league.
  • Answering questions about the Eagles’ projected roster, PhillyMag.com’s Tim McManus said he doesn’t expect many “curveballs,” i.e. surprises, when the team’s 53-man is finalized. McManus expects LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles and Chris Polk to serve as the running back trio, and he expects Brad Smith to stick as the fifth receiver. The one mild surprise could be Travis Long forcing veteran Brandon Graham out, though that would mean employing two backups at defensive end (Long and first-rounder Marcus Smith) with no NFL experience.
  • Entering training camp, 49 Patriots players are “sure-fire locks” or “near locks,” in the estimation of ESPN New England’s Mike Reiss, who breaks down the projected roster.